Ransom Lake

full orchestra
(3[III=picc].picc.2.3[III=bcl].bcl.2 – – timp.perc(1).glock.harp – strings)
duration: 06:20

I fell in love with Ransom Lake the very first time we visited. Though it’s a nature preserve containing only about two miles of hiking trails and no particularly majestic vistas (no dunes, no Lake Michigan wow-factor), it’s so clearly a sacred place. Sheltered between the deep shoulders of surrounding hills, the lake is an oasis of the deepest quiet. The largest portion of the hiking trail makes a complete lap around the lake. This is a labyrinthine journey through trees of many ages and monikers, a journey you can take at your own pace in silence or in conversation.

Once we’re about halfway around the lake, I usually find my mind is quieted, my thoughts clearer. When the world becomes more than I can bear, my feet are especially glad to wander here in search of the quiet I so desperately long to internalize. In 2020 and 2021, there were many times I circled the lake trying to lose my bitterness, fear, anger… so many feelings! I have grown especially grateful for this place.

My favorite part of the experience has always been the walk along Ransom Creek, a serenely babbling stream of crystal-clear water making its way through countless fallen trees and bits of broken brambles. I’ve tried to photograph it many, many times and I’m never pleased with how it’s captured. It just doesn’t translate (though I’m no photographer).

Along Ransom Creek

I tend to save the creek for last because it’s the happiest place and you usually have to double-back and see and hear it all one more time. Without fail, often right before we turn for the trail back to the car, James and I exchange glances and one of us says “shhh”. For at least a solid minute we stand there on West Bridge (where the creek departs from the lake), listening to the creek, the lake, the trees, and the hills.

As part of “Sanctuary Sketches,” this work was inspired by the welcoming spirit of Ransom Lake: the beauty of the land that holds it, and its gift of consolation offered to everyone who visits. My hope is that each person who hears this work will experience their own journey around the lake and along the creek, and hear the message of the waters.

from “Sanctuary Sketches”: Ransom Lake; © 2022 J.T. McKinney

world premiere performance

This work received its world premiere on 9 July, 2022, with the Benzie Area Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Thomas Riccobono. For a preview score, visit the contact page.

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