the calm serene

Late spring, before the summer vacationers, when the sun warms the sand and skin just enough to barefoot walk the beach at near sunset. I’d say it’s my favorite time of year, but if you’ve read any of my posts over the years, you know how fickle I am. Every season, when I’m in it, is my favorite on Lake Michigan.

The giant, blooming lilac bush between our cottage and the neighbor’s is humming with life, bumblebees loud as tiny drones busy collecting pollen, honey bees, too, and yesterday an early monarch. Oh how I love the sounds and the smells coming from this bush! I could watch this microcosm all day.

Right now there are wildfires in Canada, and so the sunrises and sunsets create an odd haze, orange creamsicle orb rising behind the cottage and fading into the haze well before it reaches the horizon over the lake. Even the sliver, waxing moon and Venus are a soft, hazy orange.

The beach was quiet last night as we walked until we heard—well before we saw—this low-flying flock heading north over the lake. We stopped to watch and listen, falling quiet to fully take in the language of the geese. Are they shouting directions at each other? Comments, like in a group of cyclists where leaders point out road scrabble, bumps, holes? Is it encouragement, I wonder?

And then it was quiet again.

I finished a roll of film after work yesterday, something I think I’ve only done twice in the past several years, using busyness and lack of inspiration as excuses. I brought cameras with me, too; I have a dozen or more rolls of film just humming with potential. The world is heavy and beautiful, but hasn’t it always been heavy and beautiful? Isn’t there a defiance in celebrating the beauty in the midst of the heaviness? I might try that on for a bit.


a neighbor’s seawall, Minolta SRT-102, Lomography color 100

I’m smitten with this piece of architecture, this battered seawall. I’ve photographed it in all seasons. I love its jagged shapes and protruding planks, the way the incoming rush of a wave moves around or through it.

A few years ago it was in several feet of water. It didn’t have a chance then. The lake was gaining on its borders and there’s no stopping that. Nature says when she’ll give a reprieve, and she wasn’t in the mood to bargain.

As Lake Michigan continues to lower and the shoreline does its normal shifting and scalloping, this seawall is battered less and less. Someday soon, I hope, it’ll be mostly covered by sand, but I’ll keep photographing it until then.

I’m also still attempting to use up a shoebox full of film, much of it expired and of dubious quality. This was a lone roll of Lomography color 100, and I couldn’t tell you when I bought it. Maybe for that Iceland trip in 2018? It’s been carried around, left in hot places, and generally not treated well. The colors on this roll look a little blown out, but that’s okay. I like the pale hues here.

June’s end


June ended last night in spectacular fashion over Lake Michigan. I don’t recall a month before with so many incredible cloud formations. Maybe it’s just that I’ve gotten luckier this month, being at the right place at the right time to see just the perfect cloud formation in just the right light. This luck isn’t lost on me.

I’ve also seen more animals this month than I ever remember. More deer, in fields and roadside and in our driveway. More rabbits, squirrels, opossums, raccoons, birds, foxes (three this month!). And more plant life, and more butterflies. More of everything. It’s a healthy ecosystem here, I suppose. I’m lucky to see it.

But the animals are harder to capture in images. The deer don’t wait for me to get my camera ready. The foxes are even less accommodating. I’m not so inclined to wait in the meadow with the ticks and mosquitoes for an opportunity to photograph the wildlife.

The lake and sky? Maybe easy targets, but so satisfying, and different every day.


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