I will not miss summer, not frizzy hair and heat for one minute – but every leaf fell today, dragon-red streamers in a parade of pouring rain. It was lovely, and made me want to spin each leaf on its stem, examine all the lace veins and every dry serrated edge. Still, it took walking in the park with Cleo – her favorite paw season, damp and crunchy – to see the big picture: one leaf is special, but a thousand leaves are Autumn.
This is not new to me, missing the view, especially in the kitchen. Mostly I see cookies through a camera, or sauce on the back of a spoon. I whip meringue peering into a mixer by the second, watching for the right curve to appear on the right shiny peak. Details follow me out of the kitchen, too, as they did last summer when we tripped up to the North Woods for our annual beloved cooling-off. I brought my camera and also an unfortunate new habit, the blogger’s eye, which I turned first on breakfast.
We love to start the day in Lutsen Resort’s rustic dining room. There’s a hearty breakfast buffet, no tepid Sunday brunch but a much-loved, locally fresh, rush-the-table buffet. Now, we are people who drink coffee – for breakfast. We like to eat properly on Sunday, but nothing in our daily routine suggests even toast, let alone heaped plates of cheddar and wild rice eggs, smoked sausage, buttermilk biscuits and peppered rivers of gravy. And because you’re breathing brisk pine air and are certain you’ll hike it off, how about those pastries? Lemon custard squares, cinnamon bear claws, airy chocolate croissants. Wild blueberry danish.
It’s all tremendous – the glittering lake, fresh-baked danish, healthy air and caution to the wind. Feeling good, and a camera near the fork. Why not some pictures for the blog?
So I snapped away while they ate, aiming for special breakfast sunlight on special danish glaze. When Josie saw the pictures she said “Too much close-up or something.”
Too close? “I don’t know, the bacon. You made bacon look…gross?” She was right. How did the smokiest bacon lose its looks? What’s with that blueberry? I backed the lens off the breakfast.
Out by the lake I tried pondering the horizon but wound up sifting tiny rocks, lake treasure. Cold waves rushed my feet and I tumbled sandy jasper, granite and maybe-agates through my hands. I brought the camera.
Further down the shore Greg and Josie were skipping rocks, the same rocks. Like shell seekers, the three of us like to wander the lake beach, sometimes separate, sometimes in all directions, somehow together. This time I sat in the sand, and told them I’d catch up.
I played with my camera, closer and closer to the rocks, mesmerized by green stripes and egg shapes and fossil dings.
Just around the time I found the zoom could capture jean fibers, I looked over, and up.
My husband loves to skip rocks. Lake Superior rock-skipping is art and sport, a thousand smooth chances to both relax and get it right. For a man who uses his brain all day – or perhaps precisely because of it – Greg is surprisingly devoted to throwing rocks into water. He’s as good at this no-brainer as it is good for him, nothing but bounces over waves. “Five,” he’ll say, “did you see that? Five.”
Josie’s been working at it for years too, with each summer using longer arms to best the master. When I looked up from my rocks that day, I saw this:
If I were still sifting rocks I’d have missed it, and if I’d followed them, I’d be in it.
We frequently wish to be where we’re not, always why am I here and should have been there, but for a few minutes in July I was right where I was supposed to be, wet feet and sandy rolled jeans, windy hair and heart bouncing down the shore, seeing what we’ve wrought and for once saying yes, here and now. Oh, yes to the wide view.