By Caren Jeskey
You are an ice covered twigAs I lay on the ice the other day, I loosely wondered if people sitting in two parked cars overlooking Tower Road Beach might get concerned. Then I realized I didn’t really care — not as much as I needed to just be me, and spend some outdoor time scoring a session of free cryogenic freezing. Well, not quite the -250°F or so of a pricey cryo treatment. But at least a welcome infusion of eustress or “good stress.”
with a quiet, smiling sap
The spring winds of life
have tested your steel-blade soul
and the harsh breath of men
covered you with a frigid shell.
But under the transparent ice
I have seen your warm hand
ready to tear the shell
and grasp the love-sun’s heat,
and your cool morning eyes
look clear and calm into the day.
— "Margrethe" by William Saphier
It was Tuesday. The weather app said 9° with a colder windchill. Nonetheless, the blindingly bright sun and blue sky were an insistent invitation to get out there. Even with vitamin D supplements and two light-boxes (albeit seldom used) I’ve been having a mild case of SAD this season. I realized it during the first sunny day in over a month recently, when my body took on a life of its own, marched outside, and refused to go back in until sunset.
Beauty Book. We’d bring chaise lounges out onto a flat tar roof at my folks’ place, and bake away. Once I got so tan that it horrified me, and I remember calling Carson Pirie Scott in Skokie to ask someone at the Clinique counter if there was anything I could do to tone it down. All she could suggest was “moisturize.” Not too clever in my vanity. My father would implore us to get back inside like sane people. I recall him once braving blazing heat and sticky footsteps to come out to hand us an article about the dangers of skin cancer. That did not deter us. He has always had a good head on his shoulders, and we would have been wise to listen to him.
I respect the ice and do not want to freeze to death. So I am careful not to venture out onto dangerous ice-shelves along Lake Michigan. On Tuesday I had carefully scrambled, in a low crouch, over layered wavy hills of frozen water that had formed over the sand, to get to the shoreline. There, rocks and fossils and lake glass patiently waited to be mined. My rock pick would have come in handy. Next time. The best I could do that day was pry a few out of the rock-hard sand and make a mental note to come back with the proper gear next time. Waders, a scoop, and those scuba-gloves I’ve been meaning to buy.
That day sure paid off. After I'd picked up a few pieces, I laid down for a bit. I'd found some of the best glass yet, as well as cool pottery shards, and even a rock loaded with fossils fondly referred to as fossil soup. By the time you read this, the ice may be all nearly melted as we head into an unseasonably warm week. Perhaps see you at the shore.
“People don’t notice whether it’s winter or summer when they’re happy.”
– Anton Chekhov