Today, I spent the day at Lake Michigan with my kids. Seeing my son Sam jump in the waves and let the water crash over him filled my heart with joy. He loves my lake as much as me. I grew up a bike ride distance from the most beautiful beaches in the world, as far as I'm concerned. I grew up in Muskegon, Michigan, on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan, not realizing how lucky I was to have such a beautiful place to call home.
Summers during my childhood were filled with weekly (or more) visits to the beach. We sometimes ate breakfast there. Other times, we had bonfires at night. But mostly, we spent the day there, jumping in the waves until we could barely stand up. I knew how strong and dangerous (but fun) the undertow could be. I remember how hot that sand could be on my tender feet. I knew my mom would always remind us to "brush off the sand before getting back in the car". I'm the 3rd generation to spend my summers at Lake Michigan. My grandpa was a lifeguard in the 30's and met my grandma there when they were teenagers. My mom & aunts love recalling stories about summers at the Lake and my parents were engaged there. It's as much of my family history as eating lutefisk and potatiskorv at Christmas.
After moving away from the "big lake" as an adult, I realized how much it was in my blood. I like living in Grand Rapids, but we're land locked here. When I'm driving to the beach and see the first glimpse of the vast blue water and the swaying beach grass, I think, "I'm home". I feel a certain unexplainable peace. There's just something about the sounds - the crashing waves, the sound of the seagulls, the roar of a jet ski's motor and the sound of children laughing that makes me want to bottle it up to take out in January when we're waist high in snow.
It gives me such joy to see my children share this love for a big lake. I know it will never leave them. If they grow up and move away, they'll always have wonderful memories of jumping over the waves and building sand castles.