I don't know why it never occurred to me before. But I was reading today's report by Northshore Bureau Chief Caren Jeskey, and suddenly it struck me. "Here, I always thought Austin, Texas was this quirky, cool place, where EGD's correspondent was bopping around, gathering color. When in reality, it could be as boring an anodyne as a generic shopping mall, with Caren generating her own heat and light, as she does here. Well, aided by the moon.
By Caren Jeskey
“Humans aren’t entirely rational beings; we’re aesthetic beings, we’re romantic beings and, as Sagan hinted, we are also frightened beings — haunted by our own mortality and the enormity of a universe we only partly comprehend. If a supermoon serves as a comforting night light, we’ll happily take it.”
I took my leave from the willow’s canopy and started the trek. After a quick stop at a coffee shop for a pick-me-up of green matcha, I crossed Sheridan where I’d planned to hop the fence to the beach. Luckily for me, since I really don’t want to be cited, they’ve posted a hundred more signs than usual reading “No Beach Access,” and they also repaired the area of the fence where ne'er-do-wells like me used to pop over to prevent having to walk another quarter mile or so. This led me to walk south like a proper person to a proper beach entrance.
There’s a little spot secreted between lakefront homes that leads to a mountainous sand dune. When you step off of the street and into this haven, indigenous trees and green and flowering things adorn the well manicured landscape. Sometimes you’ll find a person or two scanning the area for invasive vines, pulling them firmly so the roots come out, and bagging them up to be destroyed. It’s a well appointed area with trash and recycling bins and bike racks. There are stairs built into the sandy cliff, which descend to a winding path that’s peppered with charming wooden benches. There you can take a quick rest, or sit the afternoon away — a view of the lake visible though obscured by old, tall conifer trees.
Emerging at the lakefront, I headed along the water’s edge to a clump of boulders. It was nearing dusk and the lake was full of movement. A couple of boys were tossing boogie boards into the wet froth, gingerly jumping aboard and riding them back to shore, gracefully skimming the water. Deeper in, gaggles of teens were hopping the five foot waves. Their screams of delight were muffled pleasantly by the thunderous volume of lake sounds.
I spontaneously sang and howled for fun (no one could hear me) and felt like a carefree child. I stretched, and let the wind give me an invigorating bath.
It was 8:03, 13 more minutes to the scheduled moonrise. Gradually I noticed what looked like sun rays radiating out of the horizon to the southeast. Moon rays? I’m not sure I’ve ever seen moon rays before. Not like these. Then the whole sky dimmed to a darker blue cloudless dusk.
It was windy. I started shivering but it felt good, not like winter shivers. It was a much cooler night than I’d planned for. I left my rocky perch and nestled down on the beach. I tucked my knees close and draped my dress over them, tucking the bottom under my feet. Warmer, and cozy, I rested my back on a sandbag hill at the base of a “lawn” of one of the homes (that would be more appropriate as a public park if you ask me). I hoped no one would shoo me away. Alas, a heretofore unnoticed guard beelined towards me almost immediately. (‘How can a person OWN the beach?’ my mind screamed). I got up and found another place to sit, closer to the laughably tiny public beach area with a good crowd of people drying off, lying around, and creating TikTok clips.
At the best drive-in ever, I kept my eyes towards the screen of the horizon, and wondered where that moon was. At about 8:20 I finally noticed a flaming orange chord of a circle start to peek up over a retaining wall in the southeast sky. Thar she blows! She rose quickly. I leapt up and walked briskly towards her. I wanted to keep walking to her face, and gaze directly up at her like so many Disney characters have gotten to do. Dozens of people of all ages were on their feet now, from the Plaza del Lago condos all the way to Gillson Beach. Everyone was staring, laughing, talking animatedly, or taking photos and videos.
I gazed for a good long while until she was much higher in the night sky. I felt complete, and was ready to make the few mile journey home. I walked barefoot down a paved path in the middle of the parking lot, and noticed how tall the flowers, bushes, and prairie grasses had gotten since a few short weeks ago. I popped my Birks back on and as I ascended a pedestrian incline back to the street, I thought I heard a voice calling out to me. I wrote it off to the wind. But then there it was again. A lovely woman, visiting from Phoenix, was calling out to ask me to walk with her. “Buddy system. Safety in numbers,” she said. "Of course," I replied, then I assured her that we were as safe as Norman Rockwell characters. We chatted for a while, found a lot of common ground, and entertained the people passing us who could not help but comment on the spectacle of the moon we had all just witnessed together.
One of the passers by was a lady named Mary Jane Kale. Somehow it came up that she had gone to Mundelein College, where my mother went, and where I went to preschool. Modern feminist badass women like Mary Jane and my mother call themselves Mundle Bundles. My Phoenix pal, Mary Jane, her husband and I laughed at the cool coincidence. It was one of those nights where all felt right in the world.