(Transcribed from handwritten journal entry while sitting at shore of Lake Superior.)
If you are not enjoying the present moment, you are all closed off from the possibilities of what is coming your way.” Abraham-Hicks
I have discovered a cove along Lake Superior’s shoreline, a tiny inlet carpeted with pebbles and stones and surrounded by sandstone cliffs. And I am here now, my bottom cupped in my backpacking chair as waves splash my feet on this day, the last day of August, a day where the air is crisp and the breeze is hinting that summer is tipping into autumn. What a gift to find such a place, one of many spots I have deemed sacred and perfect for my summertime office on writing afternoons. And this particular inlet reminds me in its shape and essence of another cove that I loved when I was a child.
On summer days, our mother would pack us a picnic — sandwiches and ripe plums, juicy cherries and cookies — and would send us off, my younger brother and I, free to roam our property in coastal Maine. We would say our good-byes to mother and cottage and the safety of Fish House Cove, and we would head out into what felt like the wilds, two Huck Finn kids in search of adventure. We traipsed through the spruce and pine tree forest, past the tiny marsh of ferns and mosses we called Fairyland, and out onto the rocks to the very tip of Sister Point. It was there on the great granite rocks that we ate our lunches and plucked the starfish from the teeming-with-life tide pools and lifted up the strands of rust-colored seaweed to find the baby crabs wedged in the crevices. It was there, on the point, that we could feel it, the whole ocean stretched out before us. We loved the point and played in its expansiveness for hours.
And although Sister Point was our destination, the tiny inlet etched along the shoreline on the way out was always a fascination and often a stop along the way. It was called Deadman’s Cove and its name both frightened and excited us. There was treasure buried in that cove, we were certain. And when the tide was low, we searched its minuscule beach for pirate’s bounty, finding cobalt and emerald-colored beach glass, shards of pottery, soles of cast-off sneakers, all sorts of things. But the treasure, the one we imagined buried somewhere beneath the mussel-shell and stone beach, remained a delicious elusive possibility, a dream we someday might manifest. And, I don’t remember our mother joining us in our quest to find the Deadman’s Cove treasure, but I do remember her appreciation as we brought back our bounty from the point, both the stories of our day, and the physical things too, the handfuls of dried crinkly sea moss for her summertime pudding, the yellow periwinkle shells that we poured into empty bottles for lamp stands and the stray buoys washed into shore on the last heavy sea. Our mother loved the sea and its shores and its amazing bounty of gifts.
It was years later, many decades after I had moved to Upper Michigan, when our mother was well into her eighties, on a trip back to visit her and the same cottage home, that I received a hint that she too might have been seeking the pirates’ gold. I was sitting at her kitchen table looking out at the morning-calm sea when she, pushing her walker, scuffled around the corner from her bedroom. “I had a dream last night,” our mother, who until this moment had claimed to never remember her dreams, told me. And then she proceeded to share this rare gift from her nighttime sleep. She found herself in a cove, on a beach, maybe her own beach, she said. And she was searching, digging, not just for the gray clay that we knew lay beneath the sand, but for something else. And then, with a solid clink from her shovel, she struck it, quickly uncovering the motherlode, a treasure chest! My mother had found a treasure chest! And it was full to the brim, overflowing when she opened it, with gemstones — emeralds and rubies, garnets and tourmalines — all glimmering and shimmering and there for her to receive. My mother had hit the jackpot and she was sharing it with me!
It is a gift to remember that the treasure is alway present, present in the delicious details of a day spent on the point, in the tide pools and smooth quartz stones and the sun-kissed noses of two little Huck Finn kids, and in a mother who set her kids free. And it is present in the dreams of these kids too, in the possibility of treasure hidden beneath the sand. And it is here with me today, a bounty of treasure, Lake Superior waves building in momentum, stones under my feet, one shaped like a heart, a maple tree on the shoreline, its leaves flickering as sun breaks through the billowy gray-colored clouds, treasures I can hold onto in this moment — and the feel-great possibilities of things to come as I sense that hint of autumn in the air. So, I wonder on this last day of August, as our northern world tips into a new month and season, what treasures will shine brightly in the light of our present moments, and what treasures will lie buried just beneath the surface, their glimmer contained, waiting for us to uncover their gifts. The world is abundant and rich and it is ours to explore. Let’s put on our Huck Finn shoes! Let’s embrace our adventuresome spirits! Let’s appreciate the treasures we find along the way!
Summertime “offices” along Lake Superior’s Shore: Summer 2016