Life in a Northern Town

Water, Interrupted

Ted and I bought cross-country skies for Christmas in an effort to bolster our flagging fitness levels and spend time in the great outdoors in the middle of winter. So far, so good. I'm not ready for the Birkie (doubt that will happen in this lifetime) but I've figured out how to slow down, get up when I fall over and can snap my boots into the skis in fewer than five tries (I have terrible eye foot coordination). Since the ice road to Madeline was open for business, we decided to take our cross-country skiing selves over for a little ski and lunch at the Beach Club.

As it turned out, the trail looked a little aggressive for us and we settled on going for a drive (with our cross-country ski boots on..that counts, right?) around the island. We turned towards the lake and a piece of crystal clear ice, perched on a snow bank, caught my eye. Luckily, I had thought to grab my camera before we left Bayfield and I am so very glad I had it in my hands as I walked towards the beach, littered with shards of ice lit up by the sun.

It was spectacularly beautiful (trust me, the scene deserved every superlative I could think of) and I stood at the edge of the ice field in awe. Everywhere I looked, there was luminescent ice created from the pristine water of Lake Superior. I had stepped into a sacred space, where the crystalline water was frozen at my feet and allowed a glimpse into the magical transformation of liquid to solid.  

If I have learned anything in the 44 years I've been on this planet, it's this— be prepared to be amazed. Amazed by the sweet smell of our babies and their little hands reaching towards mine, the color of cedar boughs illuminated by the afternoon sun, the tenderness of a touch, the smell of damp earth in my garden, the sound of rushing water in February, the contentment of knowing all is as it should be and a beach strewn with pieces of water, interrupted.

There is no less holiness at this time- as you are reading this- than there was on the day the Red Sea parted, or that day in the 30th year, in the 4th month, on the 5th day of the month as Ezekiel was a captive by the river Cheban, when the heavens opened and he saw visions of god. There is no whit less enlightenment under the tree at the end of your street than there was under Buddha’s bo tree…. In any instant the sacred may wipe you with its finger. In any instant the bush may flare, your feet may rise, or you may see a bunch of souls in trees.

Annie Dillard, For the Time Being