Autumn’s arrival


The mood changes so fast here. Summer’s over, time to move on. There’s a melancholy (but not a bad melancholy, if that makes any sense at all). I welcome the fall air and these storms that roll across the lake, whipping the waves into a frenzy and sending me running up to the house as the huge droplets let loose from the clouds, almost a surprise.

I wrote a poem yesterday. Funny that for years I wrote poems and never showed a soul–now I’ve read two to an audience, shared them here, written more , and here is another one. There is a freedom that comes with my age and I will simply embrace it.

What have I got to lose? You will read or not read, like or not like, remember or forget. And we’ll all move on.

Autumn’s Arrival

Bring down the flags,
tuck up the beach chairs and the boats.
Shutter the windows and bolt the doors;
September has come.

She sends the summer people scurrying from lake cottages
back to big cities and dull suburbs,
where the sound of gentle lapping waves is replaced by
shrill alarms and maddening traffic.

We stay on the beach, undeservedly,
and wonder how we will fare here when the winds blow cold,
the days grow shorter and the nights clearer,
longer: more silent.

The weekenders will come before then; the color-seekers and apple-pickers
bringing city reminders and driving too fast.
We’re not like them anymore, and
we’ll say we can’t wait for them to leave.

The lake will chill by October, but I’ll still
walk the beach barefoot: either I won’t like to be confined by shoes
or the feel of the bone-cold sand will keep me grounded,
I won’t know which.

We’ll retreat when the wind finally overtakes our voices
and leaves us mute; when winter in earnest comes and the sky
is indistinguishable from the lake, the sand, the woods,
and all is a sullen and frosty gray.

I’ll keep sand in pockets and pebbles on night tables
in the city, in wait for the spring thaw and a fresh beach
scrubbed clean of last summer’s footprints.
It won’t be long.

That lake, she’s moody

In a week where I’m reminded of the things that are no longer part of my everyday existence, I’m finding that some surprising feelings are bubbling up.

Pre-storm, moody lake and sky, driftwood embedded in the sand

Here in Michigan, today was the first day of school for most public school kids and maybe even some private school kids. My kids are in college, and while I’m as aware as I can be about what they’re up to, they are on their own and have been for a while now. In their own spheres, their own apartments, making their own choices every single day. We orbit in our own spaces, only occasionally colliding. It was hard at first.

You don’t think about those things when you’re raising children, and suddenly they are adults and you’re confronted with it. You figure it out, of course, and it’s easier as the years go by. You move on, they need you less and less, you learn how to parent them in a totally different way.

And then you see pictures of your friend’s younger kids on their first day of school, and the memories flood back. The first day of kindergarten, the school uniforms, the front porch of the house that no longer stands. It’s all there threatening to erupt.

Like me, Lake Michigan was moody tonight as a storm rolled in from the north and lit up the sky as it steamrolled over the shoreline. Thunderous cracks and rolling bellows that shook the house and my eardrums, electrified fingers reaching out of the clouds and touching the earth, the lake, too close for comfort. But it was comforting, in a strange way. It’s been dry–we needed the rain. And the noise, the lightning; both cathartic.

Storms, like feelings, roil up, tap you (hard) on the shoulder, and then leave you be.


Little things on a big beach

I didn’t have high hopes for the beach recovering after such an awful spring, but like many things this summer, it surprised me.

Three weeks ago there was no beach to traverse. Well, not no beach at all, but the tiniest sliver of walkable beach existed and you could really walk it only when the lake was calm. Otherwise, you could walk if you didn’t mind getting battered by the waves, getting your feet tangled and scraped in the branches and grasses that twisted and matted on the shoreline like discarded rope.

Today, there is plenty of beach to roam, to throw a ball for the dog, to run barefoot. Lovely, big stretches of it.

Why would I be surprised? I know this lake and these sands and the constant drifting and redepositing of shoreline.

Last evening in long shadows just before the sun slipped into the shrouded, cloudy horizon above the lake I walked the beach with my camera in search of the things that get overlooked.

small feather from gull, pebble, drift marks in the sand
oak leaf, blown in from the woods
pebble, indentation, lines from the waves

I still tuck the gull feathers into my ponytail or behind my ear or into a cap.

I still fill my pockets with pretty stones.

I still gaze at the patterns the waves make on the shore–I think they look like mountain ranges.

I still chase the leaves and small feathers and dead bugs down the beach as they travel with the wind.

I still pluck the struggling butterflies and bumblebees out of the water.

Why shouldn’t I?

fossil, under just a bit of water
same fossil, post-wave
mountain range
lines from the waves moving the sand around