Sunday, February 28, 2010
"Look at all that water!"
I've spent the better part of the last fifteen years within sight of Lake Superior, and still it never fails to fill me with awe. In college, I had a second story apartment on the Hillside of Duluth, in an old house with three giant windows facing the Lake, ancient glass settling heavily on the sills in a dreamy, wavy pattern, and there wasn't a single day in a single season that I didn't spend time cuddled up in the chair behind the fireplace, gazing out at all that water. In those days, the sound of the old foghorn made me smile in my sleep, and the sight of the Wednesday sailboat races would make me trot down the hill to the Lakewalk to find a sunny perch for writing or textbook reading or just daydreaming.
When David and I returned from our trip out to Oregon, we rented an apartment about a block away from the water, and we placed our bed in the middle of the room next to the window simply to be sure that the first thing we would see each morning would be the sun rising over the Lake in gorgeous displays of color and drama. That summer, pregnant with Jabber, I adopted David's early morning work schedule and rose before the sunrise, hiking down to the shore in the pre-dawn quiet. Each day I took a brisk walk east along the bicycle path to a little sheltered cove and my favorite rock, my sunrise-watching post. I placed myself there with my journal and a little tupperware of cereal and fruit--munching on my breakfast as the sun slowly unveiled himself to the world. I spent an hour writing: my thoughts and hopes, my attempts at poetry, my worries and anxieties about the future. And then, once the warmth of day heated up my stone seat and made me shed a layer or two into my backpack, I'd rise and walk the Lakewalk down to Canal Park and back to my apartment for a nice nap and some time on the computer, working on my first novel. Our apartment was small, the garage precarious, the street out front loud and busy, the heat patchy and unreliable--and yet it remains one of my favorite places in memory.
Our next home was without a view, but in our backyard rose a ridge that, if we dared to climb it (and at eight months pregnant, it was quite a feat!), offered a vista I could spend hours just sitting there admiring. In all the time we lived there, I think of that ridge and the view of the Lake below it as my sanctuary. Little Jabber learned to say "superior" before he was able to walk.
Life with two kids and a full-time job and novel-writing and bill-paying and whatever else is busy. Our cute little house now is close to the Lake but in a flat area, without a view. Still, every day on our drive to work, we climb up a hill and are greeted with the sight of Superior stretching off to the horizon, sometimes frozen and cold, sometimes impossibly blue and inviting, sometimes covered with the white capped waves that remind me of its power. On days like today, when I feel slightly overwhelmed by the world and the looming pressure of Sunday evening, I like to take the kids down to the shore for a few minutes to throw rocks in or play on the ice, and it never fails to make me feel more complete, more at ease.
I remember a hike long ago, when David and I stretched out on our backs in full winter gear on top of a sheet of ice. The sun beat down on us pleasantly, and I could feel his gloved hand squeeze mine through my choppers. Beneath us, we could hear the tiny trickle of water making its way back to the Lake as the ice melted. "Ah, this is how I love to feel," said David. "Slower than a land-locked wave in February."
So this is how we spent the final evening this February, watching the waves roll in.