Although the day is overcast, and when I look to the sky I could not tell you right-off exactly where the sun is situated, I know it is there because its light is glistening on the ripples pulsing against the shores of Lake Huron outside our cottage window. And, further evidence, I can see it shimmering through the underbellies of the leaves of these tall old maple trees that shade the cottage, emerald and chartreuse and deep forest greens clapping against each other. There is a slight Michigan breeze whispering through the flora, discussing the matters of nature with the lapping of the waves, a language familiar to my history. Their discussion makes me feel like an outlier, gratefully ignored by these ancient waters, these dependable winds and eternally shifting sands.
Dave and I returned to our Michigan cottage yesterday, having driven from Utah by way of a Utah Bar convention in Snowmass CO. We arrived just after midnight, our car slowing as we passed the cottages to the south of us, keeping watch for the streetlight hanging over the singing bridge, the marker that our cottage was eminent. The large evergreen in the front of the cottage has been cut down, giving the front a nice sense of balance, and more space for our car to park. Our car doors opened to the sound of Huron calling, her rhythmic hum like a heartbeat, throbbing out there in the darkness. Coming to the cottage is a sensory renewal, like we are called back to a dream where rest is rejuvenating and not just a break from being awake; the thunk of our footsteps against the boardwalk, the slapping of the screen door, the scent, undefinable but absolutely exact, of the cottage when you first enter. A rush of memory, a tug and pang of recollection of Dave’s mother and father who brought us here and whose spirits whisper to us to keep returning.My mother-in-law's décor, over twenty years old now, is timelessly fresh and cozy and oh so inviting. Red gingham love seats and soft enfolding easy chairs, rocking like mothers in church on a lazy Sunday morning. Warm, golden hardwood floors, reflecting the patterns of light that stream through stacks of windows. Crisp white cupboards in the kitchen, accommodating ceiling fans twirling overhead, as if they were children on the merry-go-round in the park, moving the soft July air over our skin.
A lovely bank of glass doors and windows, six of them, line the back of the cottage, framing the lake and the trees and the sparkling spanse of beach where next week our grandchildren will disturb the sand and lift their voices against the music of the waves and the wind. They will play until their bellies are churning with hunger, then they will follow the scent of Michigan baked beans trailing through the screen doors. They will politely refuse the beans, begging instead for macaroni and cheese and a large weeping glass of cold milk. Anna Bella will remind us that tonight we will have fresh corn on the cob, with Amish butter, and I will ask her how in the world she is going to eat that corn with her two front teeth missing. She will smile her toothless smile and giggle, pulling her lip with her finger and declaring that she will use her back teeth. Joe will scream because his Auntie Kate is bringing him up from the beach, whining and wiggling until he sees the noodles and the milk, then he will crawl into his high chair and chow down, wondering how someone knew he was hungry when even he didn’t know. Timothy will eat quietly, wishing his cousins were here, thinking about making little snips of movies with them down there in the sand, forcing himself to not think so much about it because the missing them hurts. He will think instead about borrowing the Doyle’s kayaks and taking a row with his mom or dad or auntie Kate, or his Gumpa will remind him that they will go golfing tomorrow morning. Then he will listen to the music that is always running through his head and he will gobble his mac and cheese contentedly.
But that is all to come. Today I am here with the man I love, in this place I love. He is downstairs, preparing for a conference call with a couple attorneys. I am tucked into this easy chair my mother-in-law sat in over twenty years ago, rocking to the rhythm of the waves, my fingers clicking away at this keyboard, trying to hold on to a moment in time. There are chocolate drop cookies on the counter, There is a bluebird on the railing of the deck in front of me, and a squirrel paused halfway up a tree just past the bird. His tail waves, creating a repetition of question marks, as if to say…”Are you coming? Are you coming?”
“I’m already here.” I whisper. I’m already here.