Category Archives: Bottom of the Lake

Stories, essays from the collar counties that keep lower Lake Michigan from flooding Illinois and Indiana!

Love Her or Leave Her?

This time last year I bought a t-shirt that reads: “Celebrate Earth Day Everyday.” While it’s not always top of mind (top of mind is loving my family, eating right, walking the dog, you get the idea) part of my everyday celebration includes recycling.

imgres I must admit, I wasn’t an early recycler, just as I wasn’t an early non-polluter.

It was that first Earth Day in 1970 at Gary Andrean High School where I learned the basics. I didn’t know throwing straw and gum wrappers in the street was polluting. Yeesh. And I’d always thought I was a good kid!

I really didn’t have a clue.

I guess I wasn’t alone because we all received “Give a Hoot, Don’t Pollute” stickers, among other, valuable green advice. Since then I’ve tried to do my share to save this rich, vast, wonderful blue and green planet we call home.

Today as a member of the Ogden Dunes Environmental Advisory Board, a Master Gardener and lover of the natural world, I’m breaking out my Earth Day shirts and wondering what I can do to help our environment. I thought it might be fun to share some things about Earth Day.

First, is this quiz I found on line.
(One answer is in this writing!)

I got 16 of 25. What about you? What do you know about Earth Day? (Must admit I had to think twice about the quiz rating me “Antiquarian.”)

While you’re taking that quiz, I’ll write about Recycling Do’s and Don’ts. Sound boring? Then perhaps you’re not recycling. And if were not recycling, our garbage has to be trucked to a landfill to be stored for all time. Wow.

Leaf, me be

I was walking Aw’gy this breezy fall morning while leaves swirled all around us. So many have already detached themselves from their trees only to land in the dunes or have been swept or raked then discarded. But one leaf is going to spend the winter on my desk. It’s the leaf that landed on my head.

It didn’t land really, but sort of plopped – purposefully. With a flat hand I plucked it from fine, graying hair. (It’s  a copywriter’s choice. Why say thin when fine will do? And, it’s in a ponytail. A sort of personal oxymoron.)

“Thanks,” I said out loud, studying the fine oak leaf in my hand.

photo-21 Pin Oak, I know. Pinnate lobes, I thought, and alternating, not opposite. The base of the stem looked slightly green, telling me it had had a healthy life. I studied the fine veins. It had a few small blemishes and a couple of warts. Me too, except for the warts.

How many leaves did I rake this weekend, I thought as I raked a bunch to the curb. How many leaves are on the ground in these dunes? Hmm, how many grains of sand on the beach?

I stopped thinking about how many and became a grateful observer.

The best flat tire I’ve ever had

Unknown It could have been a lot worse.

I thought the tire pressure light on my Subaru’s dash was illuminated because, well, it was 15 below zero and I’ve seen that light on other cars I’ve owned when tires sat overnight on a frozen driveway.

“Little did she know,” as writers sometimes write, that a shard of steel had pieced the rear-passenger Goodyear. Perhaps because of the cold or the way the steel pieced the tire or sheer dumb luck, the tire didn’t go flat until 36 hours later.

Of course, I didn’t leave the house Monday with the daytime “high” of 13 below zero (that’s minus 25 for my friends in France!). Tuesday the roads were still snow-packed and almost too treacherous to trek. Still, I managed a short drive for a few groceries and gas. “Huh. What’s THAT light doing? OHHH. Must be too cold for the tires. No worries.”

False hope.

Yet, when I hopped in on Wednesday for some errands the light was off. “Warmer today?”

Fortunately it was a bit warmer Wednesday. And luckily, I made it down the expressway at 60-65 MPH, no problem. Thankfully, I made it to the gym, Staples and the yarn shop on the square in Valpo. Easy peasy. I was even lucky, I figured, that the tire started to really lose its air just a couple of blocks from downtown Valpo.

Lucky that it was still daylight. Lucky that I wasn’t on a country road. Lucky that – here’s a woman’s thinking for ya, “Hmm. Can’t get Triple A or Subaru Roadside Assistance …” the recorded messages stated due to extreme cold and snow there would be a 3-4 hour wait for service – I could limp a few blocks back to my favorite yarn shop to hang out while I waited.

But even luckier still: just two blocks into my limping I happened upon Sandberg’s Towing & Recovery, 1252 W. Lincolnway, Valparaiso.

Pulling into the parking lot and reading the sign, I thought, if nothing else it would be a good landmark.

The lights were on and people inside had real car problems. An older couple’s Toyota died for no apparent reason on Route 30 and had to be towed. They were waiting to find out how long before their car could be repaired. “A couple days, with all the work we’ve got ahead of you.”

I had no choice but to wait patiently while a young bearded man named Eric Continue reading

Thanks, 2013, for a move to the Dunes

When I moved back to Indiana in 2011 and wanted to live as close to the lake as I could, I bought a bungalow 11 miles south of the Indiana Dunes State Park. I thought it heaven because my dog and I could be on the sand in just 20-minutes.

cover We walked the shoreline in all sorts of weather – humid, summer mornings before it got too hot and frigid days with the low winter sun making my shadow about six feet longer than my actual height.

Aw’gy got longer, too, on the winter beach. And he loved it! Running, that is. I don’t know if it was because he was born in the desert or simply the freedom of running the sand with abandon but this dog loves the beach!

So you might imagine how happy dog and owner are now that we’ve moved to a Duneland community, in a house within walking distance to the lake! Yup, 2013 brought us a house in the dunes, which we happily share with our man (that’s another story.) Now, THIS is heaven!

Because the community is situated along the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore, we’re surrounded by nature. Houses sit atop and between sand dunes covered with trees, shrubs, flowers and vines. Streets roll and curve up and down and around the dunes.  Continue reading

How can you love a lake for cry eye?

Today is a day to be truly grateful for living on the shores of Lake Michigan. The weather is glorious with clear blue skies. Only 60 degrees but I would have bet it was 75 at the lake this morning. It is joyful to see my dog Aw’gy tear down the beach or bite the water with his houndy muzzle. It brings me joy to be here. I love this lake.

I always thank Aw'gy for getting me out in the morning.

I always thank Aw’gy for getting me out in the morning.

After 7 years in New Mexico, I told friends I was leaving to be closer to family and the lake.

“You’re moving because you miss the lake? We have lakes in New Mexico.”

Well, yes. Technically. But nothing like the Great Lakes.

As a kid in Whiting, IN – about 8 blocks from the lake – my mom or someone’s mom would take us to the beach nearly every summer day. We’d pack up PB&Js; don suits, shorts, shirts and Keds and head to Whiting Park. From my dad’s store on the Boulevard, we’d take 117th Street, cross three sets of tracks and a red-bricked street to the beach.

For a little kid it seemed like a re-a-l-l-y lo-o-ng walk. But then, if you’re 5 or 6 with short legs anyway …

Those trips to the beach meant everything to me. Sheer joy. Our tradition started with my mother’s family living in Whiting and enjoying the lake, camping at the Dunes. And it continues to this day as my siblings bring their children, and their children’s children to the shore. Kids frolic in the waves, wade or swim out to the sandbar, build sand castles, eat PB&Js.

A year ago I lived 11 miles from the lake but thanks to a benevolent Universe, I’m less than a half mile. “Close enough to walk, not close enough to carry a full cooler,” I’ve been told. There’s no excuse not to visit the lake everyday, but some silly sense of responsibility tells me I’ve got to work first. I’m no longer that short little kid (I’m a short big kid.) Something’s telling me to rethink my priorities and spend more time with the lake I love.

(Note: As I write this, thoughts are with a family in New Mexico that lost a son to Lake Michigan this year. News reports said he went out to watch a storm. Many of us learned early on “the lake that thinks it’s an ocean” is to be respected.)