Not even COVID-19 and our corporate welfare state can take everything away from the little people like me. Lake Michigan remains.
Over the weekend we took the kids up to Kohler Andrae state park, on the lake’s shores. Although Anthony and I are ex-pats here in Wisconsin, our kids are born-and-bred Wisconsinites. And because we spend much time on its shores, Lake Michigan runs through their childhood like a big soft Nature Mother, a place of safety and peace and deep memory. It’s a perfect space to escape to, in this time of uncertainty and anxiety.
The problem is making the escape. When Jesse’s tics blow in the car, or when Nick gets noisy, well… I’ll say it plainly: sometimes I lose my shit. Anthony offered a solution. “Just put on your earbuds and listen to loud music while I drive. Just commit to it.”
I love this man so much.
It worked. On the 45-minute drive up, I listened to Audioslave, a real throwback for me. I bobbed my head to the pounding and ignored everything. I was, oh… 80% pulled together when Anthony pulled into the parking lot next to the dunes.
It was a strange day on the lake. Chilly and cloudy, some lake effects snow flurries, and then sunny and fresh. It was an ordinary day too for us. There was some mild bickering and meanness, and wet shoes, and whining, and sadness and abandonment, and making up, and bare feet and pretending the water is so HOT, and chasing the dog and being silly. There were trees and dunes and sticks and stones aplenty, untouched by any humans that we could discern, so we didn’t worry about sanitizer and soap. There were things to throw in the water (huge drift wood is a favorite), sand to dig fingers and toes into, tiny and big icicles to observe and fiddle with, a distant horizon and vast skies to ponder. There were crazy little ducks flying south, low along the lake, wings flapping so fast it looked like a silent scream and made us laugh and laugh.
There were my children and my husband, the loves of my life — the things that matter most of all — present with me, each of us anchoring the others in a play for resilience. I thought of all the families around the world, hunkering down together, and I felt my heart squeeze every so lightly.
It was good to escape from the grinding weight of news and fear about coronavirus and politics and the economy and social distancing, to run into the wide open arms of Lake Michigan. It was good to be reminded that Mother Earth is so vast, so much stronger than the coronoavirus, Donald Trump, the stock market, and humanity. We need only open our eyes to her, and she’ll give us all the beach toys we need, without a factory or coin in sight.