about bliss

Sunday, May 24, 2009

daily bliss: beach day

the boat that bridges my two homes

Growing up two miles from Lake Michigan, I always looked forward to long, endless days at the beach, digging my toes into the sand, splashing in the waves, and reading an engrossing novel. Trouble was, once it was truly warm enough to spend such days at the beach, it was also warm enough for the acres upon acres of blueberries on the family farm to need picking and cleaning and packing. Such days were treasures reserved for weekends, or hurried trips in the evening after long days of working in the hot sun and dusty fields.

Living less than a mile from Lake Michigan now, I still look forward to the same pleasures of being at the beach, and my summers are surprisingly freer than they were when I was a child. (another benefit of my profession:) After spending some of Friday, much of yesterday, and all of this morning working on revising my study, I was ready for a change of pace. The breeze blowing in the open windows felt warm-ish, and the sky and lake both sparkled sapphire. I layered on warmer clothes, packed a small daypack, and headed East. I passed many others on the trail wearing considerably less clothing than myself, but I knew that the temperature would depend a great deal upon the wind direction and speed, something that can change the closer you are to the water. I settled into my favorite sandy spot, spread out my blanket, unlaced my shoes, and wriggled my toes into the surprisingly warm sand. I took off my wind-proof fleece jacket. I was comfortable! I was not cold! I did not need my fleece headband! Granted, I was wearing a hooded sweatshirt and sorta fleecy pants, but I was warm.

I stretched into a few sun salutations; dug my toes into the sand, finding purchase for a near-perfect half moon pose facing the lake; sipped some steaming cafe au lait from my insulated travel mug; and read a few pages of Jenny Crusie's novel Faking It. Then, I reclined and, a la Annie Dillard, observed the world around me.

all the world in a blade of grass

I watched the car ferry, trailing clouds of black coal smoke, wend its way back to Michigan, and disappear over the horizon.

I watched a paddler push off a kayak into the small but steady waves, and I longed to be back at Lake Superior paddling from the mainland to Sand Island.

I watched a sea gull float and fly above the waves, "free fall[in'] out into nothin'" to pluck a fish from the icy water and struggle aloft with the fish firmly held in its beak before gulping it down, reminding me of Dillard's observations of a weasel carcass affixed to a flying eagle...

I lay on my fleece blanket, my face tilted towards the sun, suspended between wakefulness and sleep, in that glorious in-between space where the mind moves untethered, lilts and tilts, and doesn't settle but roams.

I sat up in a daze, grabbed pen and paper, hearing Harleys roar and children squeal, and jotted down these notes to take back with me.

I thought about chocolate ice cream and cookie topped brownies and felt the edges of hunger nudging me out my trance and back on the trail towards home.

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