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.
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.)