Sunday, December 5, 2010


Steps to the beach,
looking due west,
December 2
I awoke to snow on Wednesday. Because of my cold, I’ve been letting myself sleep, and I woke up after sunrise. When I came downstairs, through the bank of west-facing windows, I saw snow had dusted the porch and ground and road and was still coming down.

We had a snow squall back on the evening of November 5th. The snow lingered on the ground, and I wondered if that was going to be the beginning of winter, but by morning it had evaporated.  Then the weather turned and the whole month of November was warm, often sunny, with temperatures approaching 70 a few times. In short, it was glorious. Of course, out here on the lake, you have to qualify that a little bit because of the wind. If there’s even a hint of coolness, a strong wind can make it downright cold.

Jack near the ice-rimmed
sag in the creek
 A friend who’d never been to this house visited me the other day. The surf was big and crashing incessantly; the wind gusted insistently out of the northwest; the sun kept poking out between the clouds and lighting the lake in incomparable blues and greens and, near the shore, where the surf churned the sand, browns. It was the kind of day we lake dwellers love – bracing, exciting even. As we were driving out of Lost Valley, my friend said to me, “I don’t know if I could live this close to the lake.”
I laughed. I could tell by his tone that it was too much for him. It’s loud, that’s for sure. But there’s more. The unceasing movement could be disturbing, and that, I think, is what got under his skin. It’s an acquired taste, probably. I wonder, having lived near the shore of Lake Michigan for 40 years, how I’ll fare in Morocco if I’m posted to a desert area, or the high Atlas Mountains. In terms of my seeking new experiences, that is probably what I should hope for. But maybe I’ll get lucky and get posted to Essaouira, or some other town on the Atlantic coast, where I’ll be able to continue to experience the weather and sounds of a huge body of water.
Right now, it is the weather, Big Lake weather, I’m attuned to. It’s my first awareness as I wake up in the morning, even before I open my eyes. I listen for the surf and can picture the lake and the shore. I listen for the wind and envision how tightly I’ll have to wrap myself when I go out. If I hear a tinkle of running water (the downspout runs down the corner of the house where my bedroom is), I know there’s a quiet rain. And then I open my eyes. Because it’s dark when I normally wake up, I don’t know what the sky will be till I take Jack out. Then I see either a big, clear sky and thousands of stars (there is little light pollution up here), or clouds scudding past, or an impenetrable black slate, and I can guess what the dawn will bring.

The creek carving a new
curve in the beach
As part of my weather watch, I’ve begun taking photos of the shore from the same place every day in two places: from the stairs down to the beach and at the creek in Meinert Park. I’m not sure what I’ll do with the photos, but it amuses me. The beach has widened considerably in the short time I’ve been here, and blowing sand has already covered four treads at the bottom of the stairs. Likewise the creek has changed too, in fact changes constantly, as it snakes across the beach. Its mouth has moved back and forth over a hundred meter stretch as wind and surf pushes the beach sand now this way, now that.
Last weekend I moved a bag of clothes I’ve been collecting to give to Goodwill. Right on top was a balaklava. Despite the generally mild weather in November, it’s been vicious enough a couple of times so that my face hurt. When I saw that balaklava, I said to myself, “Why did I ever think I should give that away yet?” and I pulled it out and put it in the closet with my gloves and scarf. I know I’ll have use for it soon. Not today, though, which was another glorious day. Though still cold enough to keep the snow from melting, there’s no wind, so it seemed almost balmy walking the beach. Made me feel almost human again.

No comments:

Post a Comment