Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Morning in New Buffalo

My extended family had arrived in New Buffalo, Michigan several days earlier, to celebrate my mother’s 75th birthday. From the moment we set foot on Lake Michigan’s sandy eastern shore I felt at home. I recalled countless summer Sunday afternoons spent beside the huge lake during my childhood years, in Grand Rapids, Michigan, eating tuna salad sandwiches, basking in the sun and shooting the waves. I burrowed my toes deeply into the warm evening sand.

Contented smiles etched my parents’ faces as they watched my siblings and our children talk and laugh together after a year apart. Sunset painted the sky with a kaleidoscope of pastels as impatient waves rushed the beach, the force of high tide drawing them ever closer to blankets and lifeguard chairs.

Our three day vacation was a whirlwind of activity, designed to keep restless teens and preteens well-occupied. We played miniature golf, saw a movie together, shopped, and had a big birthday dinner, leaving only a few afternoon hours for another beach visit. Although my sister-in-law took one long walk with me along the gentle shoreline, it didn’t nearly satisfy my craving for time beside the lake.

On the final morning of our trip I awoke early, tiptoed past my sleeping family, and walked several blocks to the beach, with camera in tow. Sail boats and motor boats bobbed gracefully in the harbor waters. A lone fisherman cast his line over and over again, the horizon barely visible behind him in the early morning mist. Suddenly, flaming orange light edged dark clouds beyond the dunes, as sunrise emerged.

I breathed deeply, savored the fine sand that squished between my toes one last time, and slowly made my way back to the hotel.