Dreams really do come true. Keep dreaming!
Basically I’ve been rather spellbound with Lake Michigan from the first moment I gazed at its unsalted watery depths, seeing what appeared to be almost limitless shoreline and jaw dropping blue meets blue horizon. It simply took my breath away. It still does. From my vantage point, it doesn’t take much imagination to see how closely this lake mimics an ocean’s curvature of the earth, and I truly never tire of breathing in its beauty as all my senses instantly come alive to the sights and sounds and smells that surround it.
I have to admit, it’s somewhat of a one-sided love story – Lake Michigan and me. Only I don’t mind. I love and appreciate so many things about it. I love how every single day there’s a breathtaking view waiting to be seen and how the lake transforms itself depending on the season or the weather or the time of day – stirring up colors to contrast the sky or sometimes to match it.
The wide spectrum of hues are as varied as the pebbles and stones and shells that line the beach – from brilliant cobalt blue or rich turquoise or deep slate grey or tropical sea green or churning chalky brown.
Deep into winter it can be snow covered and frozen if the temperatures drop below freezing enough days in a row.
Some days it takes on an almost mystical quality as the temperature differences between the water and the air create misty vapors that hover and rise above it like errant clouds that have lost their way home.
On windy days, the large and masterful white capped waves will be churning and rolling and gaining speed as they travel from some unknown starting place to shore. When they do it’s with a ferocious crashing and almost cataclysmic force as they cover the giant rocks and cement boulders that line the shore (my favorite place to watch) splashing and spraying and drenching everything in their path. On days when the wind has taken a holiday and the air is quiet and still, the waves too seem to whisper some secret as they slowly and rhythmically lap in and out and in and out from the water to the land and back again.
Living and working near this lovely lake for close to 30 years, I’ve been privy to many a splendid sunrise and happily anticipate enjoying many more. I’ve walked to the lake from my home or from work during a lunch hour, and I’ve pedaled my bike along the zoo path that borders it, more times than I can count. I do my best to never take it for granted and as often as possible I soak up and savor each and every drive or ride or walk by it. If you were privy to my eight gratitude journals you would see that this sweet lake with its nourishing and abundant fresh water has been blessed and featured and listed countless times as well.
It seems I’m seldom alone in my enjoyment; there are always other people soaking it up too. Depending on the season, there will be people swimming or building sandcastles or just soaking up the sun’s rays, while others may be snapping photos, playing Frisbee or beach volleyball, or spreading out blankets to take in the view or a picnic on the grass. There’s generally an ever present assortment of bikers and skateboarders and walkers along the walking paths and sidewalks, at the same time plenty of boaters and fishermen and skiers will be out enjoying the water.
I’ve leisurely sat on the grass quietly cheering on dragon boat races, iron man competitions, and sailing regattas. I’ve shivered on the frozen beach with family and friends as we cheered on my daughter when she chose to dive into its icy water on more than one New Year’s Day. And I’ve stood wrapped in a blanket on the grassy cliff to attend Easter Sunrise Mass several years in a row.
My favorite lake tradition would have to be watching the 4th of July fireworks display beautifully shot off and reflected on the lake year after year. I still have goose bumps from this year’s fireworks celebration and there just aren’t enough adjectives to do them justice.
Over the past few months, I changed work locations and the new route to this new work zip code no longer takes me along the lake. A week into being in the new building, I found myself in a bit of a funk; only I couldn’t quite figure out what was causing it. As I sifted through my thoughts and feelings, I realized I was missing the lake. At that moment of revelation, I immediately made a commitment to drive or ride my bike by the lake at least five times a week. Since making this promise, on an average I go by the lake at least once a day and some days I go by twice or even three times.
This past week, as I’ve now been doing every day this summer, I took a detour on my way to work and drove along the lake with the car radio turned off and the lake-side windows rolled down. I didn’t want to miss anything. I wish everyone on earth would get to experience a drive like I had that morning. The sunlight magically danced like sparkling diamonds across the rippled surface of the deep aquamarine water and all along the side of the road, the gorgeous shades of green and sprinkles of wild flowers made me nearly gasp. I heard dozens of birds chirping and singing to each other, while seagulls called out as they partnered with the wind and swooped and flew circles over the water. A cool lake breeze was blowing and the unmistakable aroma of summer wafted through the car and filled my nostrils – freshly cut grass on multiple lawns, and several yards where clotheslines with assorted clothes and sheets were hanging on for dear life as they clapped and flapped and swayed in the wind. There wasn’t a cloud in the vibrant robin egg blue sky and several golfers were teeing up as I approached the lighthouse. Almost on cue, a sandy brown head peeked out of a cluster of shrubs. A leg followed and then another leg. Then the entire body of a deer materialized as it shook itself free of the leaves and branches. It was a doe. She stood on the edge of the road and I slowed the car to a stop. She stopped too. I waited. She did the same. We both stared. I beeped my car horn. She took my hint and strolled across the road and walked along the grassy edge of one of the golf holes. After scanning the bushes and surrounding area to see if any other deer family or friends planned to join her, I continued on my way. It was a perfect start to my day.
Actually it really doesn’t matter if I start or end my day by the lake, because regardless of the time of day or night, I know there will always be hidden gems just waiting to be discovered.
7/10/16 Update: This morning on my drive along North Beach, there were several joggers and dog walkers, someone maneuvering the sidewalk on skates, a little girl wearing a pink helmet learning how to ride a bike; and with wonderful breezes coming off the lake, a man walking down to the beach carrying a multicolored kite. Another perfect day.