Getting Lost on Isle Royale

To Sit, or Swim, or Think

When I have had a particularly engaged year with too much work which comes with great satisfaction from the devotion of too much energy to the success of others, I stop. I simply stop. At summer, I stop. Some say, “to smell the roses.” But that’s not what I do. The act of smelling is too much and not enough all at once, and my heart cries out for spaces less peopled and water more fresh, for climbs to great vistas and worlds that speak truths out loud.

Belle Isle Beach
Tobin Harbor

In the absolute quiet from human noise, I sit in the sun. On a baking rock, I look outward over the lake and inward into my own self. The waves sploosh on the shore, or crash, or ssppsshhh. I hear. The breeze blows whisps of hair across my lips and eyes. I hear. I lay myself down to see insects in the sand, porting forth tidbits of debris, housebuilding I assume, and shreds of flowers or seeds, edibles I assume.

Moskey Basin
Rainbow Cove

Sometimes I bring a book as though to read, but I don’t read it. It lies next to me on the towel, and I listen to the flow of water and the energy of wind. Birds float silent on wings, and I watch from between half-closed eyelids. I could lie here all day in the sun in my sunblock, but eventually the toasting needs respite in the waves, and I unsprawl and recoil to regain my feet. Rising, I tread the uncomfortable pebbles into the shore, sinking grateful into coolness that embraces the parts that have given too much elsewhere.

View to the North, Giant in Repose

The buoyant water holds me, and I push against it fishlike to propel myself forth, all submerged beneath the nostrils breathing in god’s (or the gods’) air. And I roll like a great whale, supine and then prone again, the undulation of face up and face down refreshing. The sun diamonds the surface and shadows my shape beneath, along the sand and rock of the bottom. I am held and sustained until the coolness creeps into my bones, and I emerge to recline again face up to the heat on the shore with my book that I don’t read.

North Lake Desor
Lake Superior Sunset

And I drink long the water of life as I climb up the ridge for a view of the vista to the north, the giant in repose, and then leftward, westward, the sun retiring. I seat myself for the presentation of yellows to pinks that streak the water toward me, a golden road westward across the azure expanse. And just about the time I believe it to be perfect, I hear the small zzzzz of a mosquito, and I make my way off the precipice to my tent to listen to the night creatures, the tree frog and the owl, the rustle of fox. And the rest of the singing insects.

Join me on a women’s hike. See what Duane is doing on the Minong in August.

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