Thursday, 29 June 2006

cottage country

I miss Lake Michigan.

I do this periodically - I'll read a book or see a program that will whisk me back to memories of growing up within arms reach of fresh water. I miss the washed-clean smells, the lap of the waves, and the gentle hiss of the raindrops falling on calm waters. It was always there, a constant in my life I never realized I'd miss until I moved away.

God help me, I miss lake effect snowstorms. Eh, okay, maybe not so much.

I grew up in a small town, where my friends and I could grab our towels, run through the piney woods and be right there - leap off the boat dock and into the waves - usually freeze-your-heart cold, but so worth it. We had a favorite place to swim and usually had a couple of swimsuits drying in the shower (or flapping on the line) at any given time. Damp sandy towels and stray flip-flops were a given.

Moonlight swimming was the best once we realized boys could be fun too. Nothing more romantic than lying on a float offshore, listening to the waves slap the pontoons and pointing out constellations. I did a lot of shy hand-holding and some experimental necking those summers while bonfires on shore lit up the night.

I was also lucky enough to grow up in northern Michigan, where the Sleeping Bear Dunes were a quick trip away and carloads of us could play among the parks and hidey-places there. Somewhere (I'll bet I could still find it) just before the scenic drive starts is an abandoned area that used to be a water garden, with an area of land shaped like the hand of Michigan and fishponds surrounding it in the shapes of all the lakes around it filled with brightly flashing fish and fountains. It was filled in many years ago but the wildflowers have taken over and its still a magical place. There was a Dune Climb that we would skip school and go out by, toting picnic baskets and coolers, and a really gorgeous scenic drive.

The ocean is not the same.
It's spectacular - I still marvel that I live near! the! sea! but it doesn't smell the same and it's grander and slightly alien. Going for a swim here involves packing the car and a quick study of tides, not a care-free whoop of snagging towel and running for the water.
The spoils are different, too. Not so much beachglass (or any Petoskey stones), but small shells and banana leaf seaweeds. Crab claws instead of crayfish are the gulls' favorite snacks. Every once in awhile we'll see whales (whales! can you believe it?) but its' still so different.....and it makes me long for home and old friends.

I miss those big old sandy hills too.


Angela said...

you made that sound wonderful! I wish I grew up somewhere cool like that.

The beach would be nice, too. We have rivers and creeks. blah. lol

Canada said...

It's always the lay of the land from where you're from. I really miss Southwestern Ontario. Ottawa is so much harsher, more Canadian Shield rock. London, on the other hand, has gently rolling hills, lots of agriculture. . . just different.

The irony is that a friend of mine moved from Halifax to London for grad school, and he missed the ocean terribly. I would drive hime to Lake Simcoe, Lake Ontario, Lake Huron. It filled the gap a little - he didn't feel landlocked anymore. But it just wasn't the same. :)

Joke said...

Some days I miss the Detroit of my childhood.

Not during WINTER, but some days.

-Mr. Tropical, who hasn't shoveled any snow since forever

Liz said...

Hmm that does sound nice. We lived in the Detroit area for 4 years and never did make it "up North." Me? I'm an ocean girl -- don't get a lot of that in OH.

MsCellania said...

I am a lake kinda girl, too. My parents had a summer home since the early '60's on a lake. The houses were on a big hill, which one had to run down (or sled!!!!) to get to the dock. There was a nice beachy area, which was frequented by bull head mommies with their swarms of bull head babies, and lovely orange-bottomed turtles sunning on logs. The shore was shaded by the huge old trees. My grandparents had an acre garden that had wonderful raspberries to nibble on, a green bean teepee to hide in and lots of wild life to spy on. There were sheds to explore, poison ivy to avoid, fish to catch, games of SORRY! to play and long, lazy days to enjoy. And only NBC on TV, old Readers Digest COndensed books to sneak read (they were considered "Adult Fiction" in my grandmother's house but I devoured them at 9 and 10)

Winters were a different story, but wonderful in its own way. We'd sled down that huge hill and thud off the deck onto the frozen lake. My dad would shovel a huge circle to give us a 'skating rink' on the bumpy lake. We'd make pictures in the frost on the windows. We'd make maple sugar ices in the snow, and haul them in for my grandmother to admire. And she'd make the most luscious donuts in the world; and cakes and cookies and pies.

Now I live in a place of few lakes. But we have The Mountains.

I envy your Ocean. Enjoy it! We only get to see the ocean a couple of times a year.