One of those rare days...
Yesterday I spent the day with my family and a few friends on the Michigan lakeshore 30 minutes north of Muskegon. The day couldn't have been carved out of time with any better precision. It was a masterpiece; put it this way, God got an Oscar last night.
We drove through the most enchanting woods to get to this little three bedroom cabin sitting perched up above the sea of sand and fresh water. As we drove up and down the cavernous ravines on this idyllic dirt road, the scenery was piercingly gorgeous. The forrest was dark and mysterious. I felt an almost telepathic invitation to explore its contours. Sun rays were exploding through openings in the thick leafy canopy, shafts of luminescent spotlights decorating the landscape like a Dave Matthews Band stage. You could see where someone got the idea of dry ice and intelligent lighting. It felt like we were interrupting an orchestra dress rehearsal, something choreographed with brilliant artistry and toilsome preparation. It took a moment to realize that we were simply interrupting God as he played with his symphonic creation. The Maestro was leading with his little wand, head tilted back and eyes closed, smiling from ear to ear. It was a sight for sore eyes.
As we wove our way through the dirt road toward the bluffs, I caught myself smirking with delight. I didn't even know I was until I felt the corners of my mouth taut as if being held back with fairy ropes. I collected myself and caught up to the yellow truck I was following. As we pulled into the driveway of this summer cabin I could just feel that this was going to be a day almost predestined to bless my heart.
Everything about the day felt like a trip back in time, from the fresh garden green beans that I ate raw, to the smell of one of the Great Lakes in the late summer, to the sound of the surf in the distance, to the sight of sailboats darting to and fro trying to catch the wind just right. Something about this day took me back to my 18 childhood years spent in Oswego, N.Y. on the shores of Lake Ontario. The wind had a taste to it. The cabin had a smell to it that only lakeside dwellings do, a mix of winter's beating and summer's healing playing tug-a-war with this vacation home. It's nostalgic to me.
We sat out on the beach for a couple hours watching the girls play in the water while building sand castles and teepees out of driftwood. We ate munchies and talked about everything in general and nothing in specific, just the way you hope to spend a vacation day.
We went into town and got some ice cream at an Amish tourist trap. The ice cream was supposedly homemade, probably made that morning by three 5 years olds in the barn. The place smelled of cow manure, one of my favorite aromas on the planet. Heidi wasn't all that keen on the Holstein refuse, but it's good for her. She is from Iowa, so we can't let her forget that, even though it was the quarantined city of Des Moines which sits apart from the rest of the surrounding communities like Joseph wearing his coat of many colors around his farm-smellin' brothers. So, needless to say, she's not "Corn-fed and Hormone-free" like the cows were described to be on this little Amish plantation in northern Michigan. And I'm glad, especially about the hormone-free part.
We headed back to the shore and started getting the pork-loin prepared for grilling. The wind was starting to die down and the sun was starting its decent casting long, lovely shadows. I love this part of the evening when a silence starts to hover and life starts to unfold in almost slow motion.
As we finished grilling, my buddy, Dave, brought out a couple packages for my birthday. I opened the first one and it was an Etch-a-Sketch that he bought off E-bay. It was vintage, still in the box from the early 80's. He knew a couple stories that I had shared about how that was one of my favorite toys from boyhood. He pointed to another package and told me this was a little more fragile. I opened it with kid-gloves and to my surprise, it was a bottle of wine from 1974, my birth year. He said that he's not all that sentimental, but I would have to argue that point. I'm not sure I've ever received a gift that took so much thought and sentiment. I was blessed to be the object of such forethought and honor.
Dave and I took a walk through the woods and did some sight-seeing. We would stop and talk about different trees, memories from the past, and whatever knee-jerk emotional reactions we were having to the spell this wooded area was casting upon us. There wasn't a temperature. It was neither hot nor cold. It was like the porridge in Goldilocks and the Three Bears, "just right". I can't remember the last time I felt this sort of psuedo-weightlessness to life. You walked along as if floating in a anti-gravitational chamber, moving through time with effortless ease. These are the times I wish I could just stop and bottle up only to break open when caught in a firestorm of frenetic activity and frantic anxiety, pouring it over myself like a salve. But I guess that is what makes it bittersweetly special, it only happens once in a great while, and even then, completely unexpected.
As we drove home, I soaked in the recollections of the day trying to marinade it into the muscle tissue of my memory. I won't soon forget these freeze frames in the film of my story.
Life is good.