Not just any beach. Although it could be any one of many. A Lake Michigan Beach. Lake Michigan expands endlessly. The shore line goes on for miles. The other side is so far away, it is invisible. That expanse gives room for large rolling waves to build and then crash on shore. The sun sparkles off the swells and laps. The sand beneath is rippled like the water’s surface. The water so clear.
I am at peace at a Lake Michigan beach. It never disappoints me. Whether a sandy or rocky shore. Clear skies or storm rolling in. The power and magic of it inspires awe and amazement. Sometimes I think back to what else and who else has been there. All the swimmers and long-walkers. The ships crossing, some of them doomed. Explorers who saw these shores and decided to stay. The Indigenous people here long before. The endless animals and plants relying on the lake for life. Even further in time, the hard glaciers that traveled through, cutting the landscape. The ancient seas before them which left reminders of their existence in the form of fossilized stones.
I cannot go too long without returning.
I once went years without stepping foot in the lake. But never again. Because yes, I missed the lake, but I also missed a piece of myself. It was indicative of many things I had let go, not just time in the water, but parts of me that I hadn’t realized were so integral. I didn’t expect how so much of growing old is about reconnecting with who you were when you were young.
So now I sit in the soft warm sand, digging my feet under to where it is cool. Feel the breeze. Hear the waves come in, one after the other forever. Sometimes they are loud and thunderous, other times gentle and soft, but never stopping. I walk along the shore, letting the waves catch me and let me go as I search for rocks. If it’s not too windy, I wade in, float, swim, just stand with the water up to my shoulders looking out into infinity. I close my eyes, feel the cool water around my body, air above my head, and ground beneath my feet, the sun and the wind. I let the waves rock me and take the moment in, imprinting it in my mind, saving it for the long days before next year’s return.