One Saturday afternoon a few weeks back we loaded the truck with our bikes and headed up the shore. Countless times before we've said we wanted to ride the paved path along the Lake Superior Hiking Trail and with Fall upon us, our chances for doing it were closing in fast.
It was gorgeous. The birch along the shoreline were in their color-changing prime. Curving in and out of the woods, mostly uphill the first half, our bikeride was exhilerating and exhausting. We stopped on a bridge just past Iona's Beach, and because of the wind, the water came crashing in along the cliff beneath us.
"Jeremiah, do you want to get out and look at the water?" I asked.
"No....I gonna see it from right here." His tentative expression told me he wasn't quite thrilled with the idea of peering over the edge of the railing. I understood, not being a huge fans of heights myself. But that day, the thrill of riding fast down hills and peering over high railings was irresistable. We made it to Split Rock Lighthouse a while later and while sitting on a bench in the sun ate pears so ripe and juicy our water bottles were unnecessary. We stopped along a beach on the way back and let Jeremiah throw rocks in the water for a while. He, after all, had merely been a spectator the entire afternoon, perched cozily in his bike trailer. Energy abounding he grabbed the closest stick and began exploring the rocks. Both Lee and I sat- our leg muscles burning and too wobbly to do much else.
"Look, Mommy- I found an agate! See the colors?" Jeremiah said as he held up a tiny speckled rock. It wasn't an agate, but I loved that he assumed my most treasured lakefront pastime.
It wasn't much longer that my legs finally regained enough strength to join Jeremiah in the search. And that's when I found it. Years upon years of sifting through lake rock and I hit the jackpot. The biggest, most beautiful agate I've ever found seemed to jump out at me. Lee was on the other end of the inlet as I casually made my way over to him, the rock BURNING a hole in my pocket! My nonchalance was ridiculous because Lee took one look at my eyes and knew I had trumped him once again. (You see, it's taken years, but I've finally convinced Lee that agate-hunting is irresistable but he thinks if he's going to spend that much time with his nose to the rocks that the payoff should be often and BIG!)
I'll spare you the details of my subtle, and sometimes not so subtle gloating and just say that it was as close to a perfect day as I could've hoped for. It's been a long time coming. As each day passes and I'm that much farther away from my dark and scary place I feel more and more like myself again. A different version of myself, stronger somehow and more sensitive, too, in other places- but me! I couldn't help revelling in the freedom as the wind whipped through my hair. Let me tell you this, though, my life is far from some emotional made-for-tv-movie where the main character stands on a cliff with the wind swirling her hair as the camera pans out and the credits start to roll. But that afternoon was pretty close- and you know what? I'll take those moments any chance I can.