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Moving Forward

Your motion forward is inevitable; it must be.  And you are here to experience outrageous joy in the moving forward.  Abraham-Hicks

Sometimes our forward motion brings us back to our beginnings.

It was while we walked on the beach at Popham Sate Park a month ago, my friend Muriel and I, that I felt the glimmerings of a new pull east.  It was just a few days after my Mom’s passing and I was back in my birth-state tying up  loose ends and visiting with friends and family.  And on this surprisingly warm and breezy February morning, as Muriel and I breathed in the sun and the salt air, she spoke of her grandkids, how they all had loved their visits to “Grandma’s Summer Camp” in coastal Maine.  She pointed to the river that flows into the Atlantic at Popham and described how much fun it was to float downstream with the kids when the tide was going out and how much fun it was to bodysurf into shore on the beach’s thrashing waves and how much fun it was to walk over to Spinney’s Restaurant after a day of beach-surfing and river-floating — grandma and grandkids —  and dip into a double-dip of your favorite flavor of ice cream.

And I welled up as I thought of my grandchild, the one who will be born in the beginning of the summer out in Boulder, Colorado.  Who is going to bring this child the taste of the north Atlantic, if not me?  I know that this baby will feel connected to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the land that has been the adult home of my husband and I, the land where we became adults and grew our confidence and raised our boys, the land that we love as though we were natives, the land where the baby’s mother’s family are natives.  Shelly’s parents, Grandpa and Grandma Ruspakka, live in the country by a lake on land that has been in the family for generations.  They have a sawmill, an apple orchard, a tractor.  They have friends and relatives who live nearby.  And Cam and I know many of the trails of Marquette County and the coves and rocky shoreline of Superior by heart.  And our kids, the parents of this grandchild, love the Yooper land and its people as much as we do.  So, we have the Upper Peninsula covered.

But what about Maine?  Who is going to teach this child about the rhythm of the tides, about the sea and its shoreline, about the schools of mackerel fish, the flounder, the lobster who crawl on the ocean floor?  Who is going to show this child that it is easy to find the baby crabs that live on the rocks at the water’s edge?  Just lift up the seaweed and look in the cracks and crevices, and be careful; you have to pick them up in a special way!  And watch out when you traipse across these rocks with your bare feet because the barnacles prickle and tickle and sometimes hurt, and they are living and breathing creatures and we don’t want to crush them.  Who is going to tell this child these things?!?  As I walked with Muriel on the beach that morning, on the sand and among the craggy coastal pines,  I knew it was me, that I was going to be the one to share Maine with my grandchildren.  And I knew that I didn’t need to figure out how it would happen, that the wanting it to happen was enough.

And the next day, as I sat in the Old House that my cousins now own, the salt-bleached cedar-sided farmhouse that has been in our family for over a hundred years, my cousin Diana handed me a stack of photos, and among the photos was one that I remembered from my youth, one that I had written about some years ago in a poem.  It is a photo of me as a baby, and now I send it out to my unborn grandchild, as an offering, a promise of things to come.

Helen, at six months, teething on a piece of kelp at Spring Beach, Hermit Island, Phippsburg, Maine

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