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Old tennis shoes. Or tevas with built-in toe protection. Or even those nerdy water shoes. I use them all. I LIVE in them in the summer (when I’m not actually going barefoot). There is nary a bike ride, or brisk, sweaty hike, or kayak paddle that doesn’t end with me, in wild abandon, splashing into the lake. At shoreline, we got rocks. Bazillions. They are not easy to navigate. I may not be wearing much else, but baby, I keep my shoes on.
Sunny morning. Haven’t done much except play Scrabble on FB and cooked up CSA swiss chard, eggs and onions. Got me out the door and to THE Lake. The wind is from the south, 5 to 10 mph. Find me a big, flat rock. Lay me down. Doze, listen, read, gaze, repeat. Fingers feel the rock. Toes rub it. Cheek pressed against its cooling surface. It can be craggy at the edge. Soft, smooth on top. Lichens look like dirt, but it’s clean. It’s hard. A strange kind of nest for someone who likes lots of pillows. A bare nest. Simple. No clutter. The rock, the sun, the water and me. I will remember this moment, next winter, when the same rock is covered with ice and wind howls an unwelcoming tune. I will remember the warmth of this day. While I am bedded down, hunkered under soft, flannel sheets and quilts, I will remember the unyielding, solid surface of this rock. It will sustain me to the next summer.
Several times, on our school’s Earth Day celebration, I’ve brought a little rock for each student. That’s about 250 rocks. They don’t get to stand around and pick and choose; they just put their hand in the basket and take a rock quickly, randomly. The next day at school, I am accosted by students who were not only delighted by their rock (a rock!), but want to know, can they have more. Now, these are kids that live about 10 minutes away from our beaches full of rocks. Some get there in the summer, some don’t, depending on their parents’ whims. But they all are fascinated by the gift of a rock. It speaks to them, somehow. I don’t know if it is connected to the euphoria of their Earth Day outing or just having this physical presence in their hand. The rocks definitely speak to them.
So, I have this favorite artist, Andy Goldsworthy. He lives in Scotland, but travels the world using earthy materials to create massive outdoor sculptures. He plays a lot with rocks, making arches, giant egg-shaped cairns, snaking walls. I have great respect for the guy. It takes a great deal of energy to build even a wee, little cairn. I know. I’ve done it! Usually, after my athletics, all I want to do is lie down on rocks and take a nap. But, I feel I must make an effort when opportunity presents itself, and create a cairn (a stack of rocks), a pattern of wet rocks laid next to dry ones, a colourfully designed combo. It’s self-absorbing. ALL THOUGHTS OF ANYTHING ELSE IN YOUR LIFE WILL BE SUBMERGED AS YOU SEARCH FOR ROCKS AND BUILD YOUR CREATION. It’s like a mini artistic retreat right there on the beach. Out of all the things I do in a day, it’s things like this that matter most. To stop and play in such a way, really does make my day.
Rocks comfort people in unusual ways. There’s a touch “O Ireland” near Whitefish Dunes State Park; north on 57, east on Clark Lake Drive (WD Road); take the last RIGHT possible before the park entrance
Nelson Rd. and look for the Ken’s Irish Wall. Now, here is a guy who doesn’t give up easily. He lights this masterpiece up in December. I do my drive or ride bys as often as possible; I’m not a good rock skipper, and my throwing arm has an old tennis injury, but each time I ride Potawatomi Park, I stop at the “swim” beach and don’t leave until I make a rock, a little flat one, skip at least 3 times. Yesterday, I witnessed a spider web, complete with big garden spider in the middle, lit up by the setting sun, hiked a shore trail, climbed the lookout tower, breathed in the cedar fragrance; yet my journey was not complete until I skipped my rock. Then, I could wring out my swim dress, hop on the bike, and pedal home.
We have the treasure of TOUCHING with our bare hands, the Niagara Escarpment. This upside-down-U shaped mass of rock stretches from Door County to the Niagara Falls. It used to be located near the equator, under the Silurian Sea from around 2 million years ago, is made of dolomite, and immigrated up here to Door County. That’s why you can find corals and sea creatures in the rocks sometimes.
I’ve got rocks all over my apartment, in the car, in my bike bag, next to my soap dish, on my nightstand. But, mostly, they are in my hands and under my feet, as I dance along the shore.
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