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Another great lake at my doorstep

Halverson (click for larger version)
May 02, 2012 | 07:49 AM
I grew up two blocks from Lake Michigan and thought everyone had a Great Lake in their front yard.

Now I live about the same distance from Geneva Lake. So six decades later I have another great lake at my doorstep.

There's something about such a large body of water that speaks to me in languages that only the soul understands.

As a boy I found solace in its rough seasons as well as during those times when it was so calm and clear I thought I could see the state of Michigan on the horizon.

I'd build sand castles especially designed to ward off the tide. I'd walk to the nearby yacht club and dream of far-away places. I kissed a girl for the first time in a 1965 Chevrolet parked on its shores. And once I got stranded on a sandbar and thought I'd die.

Lake Michigan was my playground, my tutor, the pattern upon which I laid out my dreams.

Now I find peace and dreams once again on a shore.

When I walk or run the lake paths, my feet patter over man-made stones and roots projecting from mud. I get to choose a different path each time; sometimes choosing is the hardest part.

I recall specks of time. The times my breath wouldn't keep up with my feet, the times when sorrow drenched me, the times when the sun warmed my bones.

I recall the time I strayed off the lake path while talking to a long-winded friend on my cell phone. I got lost on a road for a good hour while he babbled. He died a year ago. So now when I reach the same spot, I don't think of that time as an inconvenience, a lost hour, nor do I think of his talk as babble. I just remember it as a time that was found with an old friend.

I remember an angry fall, when waves washed over the cement wall and snapped at my feet. I slid and grabbed on to portion of a dock which had recently been stacked on the shoreline. Menacing clouds engulfed the sun, and I started to wonder if taking a walk on Geneva Lake's shoreline at the close of such a stormy day, on the cusp of a seasonal shift, was really a good idea.

I remember where I stopped one night to read a book, the name of the book and even the chapter I was on. Strange how memory keeps its own bookmarks.

Last night I walked the path again. I had left when it was still warm, in running shorts and a sweatshirt. By the time I saw a couple coming toward me wearing winter coats, I was freezing.

I kept on telling myself that I'd turn around at the next familiar turnaround, but I kept on walking. I wasn't listening to my body. I was listening to something else I can't name.

This column was started four years ago. I found it when I was searching some old files. I've come upon these discarded writings before. Usually I find I'd changed or the topic has grown stale.

With this column, I updated a few things, fussed with some of the verbiage and added my most recent experience. But the sentiments, the feelings still ring true as much as they did four years ago. As much as they did 40 years ago.

I guess the love of big water isn't ready to pass anytime soon.

The truth is sometimes a simple thing. And lasts as long as you do.


Tags: Staff Editorial

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