Letter to Lake Michigan

Aaahhhhh, Lake Michigan!  It’s been so long since I got to swim in your warm waters.  Oh, how I’ve missed you!

You were my first foray into a body of water that’s so big I couldn’t even see the opposite shore.  And I remember your waves were over five feet tall back then.  Of course, I was a kid at the time, so my memory might be a little off on the actual height, but they were taller than me. So much so that I felt certain that someone could surf there.

I barely remember the 90-minute car ride from our house to your shores near Holland, but I very strongly remember climbing out of the back of the station wagon, sand already getting on my feet from what others had dragged back to the parking lot, and I remember my excitement that my family and I were gonna spend several hours soaking up the sun’s rays while swimming in your blue water. It felt like it took forever to get from our car to the shore, and when my parents finally found a spot to lay our towels, I couldn’t kick my flip flops off fast enough, so eager was I to jump in.

We only came to visit you a couple times in my childhood, but those few times stayed with me even after I left Michigan to explore the rest of the world. I’ve gone snorkeling a few places in the Atlantic Ocean–mostly off the coast of the Florida Keys–and I truly enjoyed swimming with sea turtles, and seeing the brightly-colored corals, but no matter how lovely things were under their waves, I still longed for the salt-free taste of your liquid. I even asked whether or not it was possible to snorkel in the Great Lakes, but was sad to learn that those things don’t appear in bodies of fresh water.

Living in Chicago for ten years, I got to swim in you again. Only a couple times, but it was more than I’d done in the ten years since I’d moved away from Michigan. In my memory, your Eastern shores were much sweeter than those found in the Windy City, but I was still thrilled to wet myself in your waves once again.

Whenever discussions with other people turned to swimming and which shores people liked best, I always touted you, my wonderful Lake Michigan. I extolled the virtues of water that was clear and warm, yet had no briney after taste. I also talked about how swimming in you didn’t leave one with a sticky feeling on their skin. And again, all this could be found in a body of water that was large enough to seem like an ocean. Most people didn’t agree with me–or try to tell me that I’m not supposed to drink the water–but that’s okay, I still love you (besides, you can’t help but taste the nasty salt water on your lips).

When Craig, Athena and I visited you during this recent vacation, I must say that you were chillier than I remembered, but I know it was a longer and much colder winter than in recent years, so I forgive you for submerging us in icy water when we stepped off the sand into your oh, so welcoming waves. I personally felt that I’d come “home” once again, and your enveloping embrace was all that I needed to know you’d missed me, too.

Athena also remarked on how nice it was to not have to spit out gritty salt after reemerging from beneath the surface, and she’s since commented on how she wants to come back to visit you again.

Thank you, Lake Michigan, for giving me some wonderful childhood memories (and now some adult ones, too), and thank you for staying just as pristine as I remembered. I hope it’s not another 30 years before I get to touch your wonderful waters again.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: Memories of the Bonfire | Droppings From the Mind of Alyx

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