Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Happy Place

I love Lake Michigan. As a kid, I remember taking drives to the lake front, to South Shore Park, to watch the Navy ships roll in, to watch the building of the Hoan Bridge. We'd go to peer at the water from the Bluffs in Port Washintgon, we'd pick shells and sea glass at Harrington Beach. It's always been a constant.

It's strange to me that over the past 20 or so years, after so many trips back to Wisconsin from Oklahoma, from Germany, from DC, we never really went down to the lake. I can count on one hand the number of visits. I wanted to make a point of going there this time.

So, this last night of our trip, when we're deciding how to spend our final night in Wisconsin, after a week that felt like an entire season of fun, adventure, family and love, we made our way to the lakefront. We went with family. Ate dinner. I got my toes in the lush brown sand of a freshwater lake.

The water? Cold—jarringly so. I mean, I guess I wouldn't expect any less. I brought my kids to the lake so they could see what I love about it. Vast like an ocean, but attainable. The sand isn't sticky from the salt because it's fresh. More rocks than shells.

Tiny little whitecap waves that aren't good for much of anything except splashing the icy cold water high on your legs. We watched the brave ones who were jumping in the water, kids and adults alike. As my own kids dipped their toes, one said "thank you for not bringing our swimsuits." I guess our thin Oklahoma blood can't take the chill of a Great Lake past mid-shin.

We posed for photos that made it look as though we were holding up the sky (great idea, Auntie Kristi).

We searched for rocks and beach glass and I sat on the sand and watched as my kids searched with their Auntie, thankful for the tiny souvenirs but more for the memories.

Those rocks will last a long time but those memories of picking rocks with their Aunt on the shores of Lake Michigan will last longer. And then when we sat on the blanket and looked over the treasures that had been collected, we chose the ones that would fit in the carry-on bags and used a tiny bit of charcoal to personalize the rest.

Now, one of my happy places is one of their happy places, somewhere they can visit in their hearts when they need a little hug from their Wisconsin family.

It's hard to say goodbye when you realize the breadth of what you leave behind.


  1. That skyline though... It looks a lot prettier there than I imagined. For some reason, I've always assumed Lake Michigan is constantly covered with ice and it never stops snowing there. But that may be my thin Oklahoma blood playing tricks on my mind...

  2. The time my family was able to live, love, watch and learn what makes your famly happy = priceless. I love you Mari, Spencer and Lauren; and a heartfelt thank you for Tony who will soon see our memories in via photos and laughter. Love Juli, Dave and Mom