Monday, January 14, 2013

Space on the Beach

Expansive Beach

Part of my work this winter involves coordinating speaker events—helping to bring experts to Leelanau County who will talk about our water.  Water in the Great Lakes.  There has been quite a buzz about lake levels this year: Lake Michigan water levels recently matched a record low set in 1964.  In some places along our peninsula this simply looks like a whole lot more beach.  In other places this looks like mucky, rocky shoreline stretching out for hundreds of feet, causing difficulties for boaters, swimmers, and all sorts of water-dwelling creatures.

Sisters

The Great Lakes are a complicated ecological puzzle.  To quote The Environment Report from a broadcast last week, "There are just a lot of moving parts."  Indeed.  Sitting in front of a screen or pondering over it in conversation, it is not hard to get overwhelmed while trying to understand how all the pieces fit together.

Zebra Mussels

But standing on the beach, watching two girls and two dogs at play, it is not hard to remember why this place is so very precious.  Why our Lakes mean so much to so many people.  

Oak

I stand along the shore, deepening shades of blue stretching out before me.  I breath in the air coming off the lake—air that I recognize as from only here.  I watch my daughters trace their fingers in the sand and see how close they can get to the water without getting wet.  I let my heart fill with gratitude for this place.  Today.  Knowing simultaneously how little we can really know and that I will go back to work tomorrow, trying to understand a little bit more.  

Beach

Pups

We turn to walk back up into the dunes and I call the dogs.  Ellen's snow pants are wet and the sun has retreated behind a blanket of misty clouds.  We are ready to return home now, nourished by all the space on the beach.

Lots of Beach

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