Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The view from the edge



I sit on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, the breeze smelling of pine resin and green things and earth and damp and summer heat. A hundred feet below me, the water is a roiling sheet of molten silver, a moving picture framed in lacy pine boughs. The wind fractures the surface crosswise as it touches down and the shimmering reflection scatters, the texture suddenly like dull ripples of sand. And then the wind stops for an instant, and the sunlight gleams off the water again, illuminating the flat limestone slabs just inches below the surface.

The motion is constant, undulating, tumbling, primeval, utterly hypnotic. An occasional seagull breaks the visual plane, its wings and back a silver grey like the waves, it's belly and throat white like the foam when they break.

A two-foot garter snake the color of leaf litter glides unhurried toward me across a carpet of pine needles and moss. Then he thinks better of his trajectory, bends right, and disappears in measured fashion over a tree root and down the bluff.

It is not "silent" here. The wind and waves and shivering birch branches above make that impossible. But is nonetheless quiet. A wonderful stillness for the soul. With the cell phone turned off and left behind in the log cabin, with no faxes, no sirens, no ambient traffic noise or squeal of brakes or crashing bumpers or barking dogs or skidding tires...with the roar of the wind above and behind me and the waves crashing below, I can hear my own thoughts again. And feel the music in my heart.

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