We gathered on a spit of rock along Lake Superior the other night, the four of us. Two couples, one 40-year friendship. Yes, it was late-September cool with a northeast wind hustling from Grand Marais to Duluth. No problem. We had the right clothes — and a packsack full of dry firewood.
We tucked ourselves away in a small thicket of saplings offering just enough windbreak to get us by.
Let’s just say, the shoreline wasn’t crowded. No rock-throwers at the nearby cobblestone beach. No surfers riding the modest rollers. We weren’t alone, though. A photographer on an apron of basalt staged engagement photos with a young couple.
The bride-to-be was blonde and resplendent in a long dress. The groom-to-be wore understated dark blue. She would bend over backwards as he cradled her and kissed her, white wavelets rolling in behind them. They appeared to be too much in the moment to be cold. The bride’s mom peeked through the brush along the road, observing the photo shoot from a distance.
Our yellow dog was leashed near us among the trees, so she didn’t wander down to join the photo session, although I think she would have added a nice touch.
The spot where we met our friends is a magnet on warm summer evenings. Kayakers cruise by like rubber duckies. Swimmers sometimes come to sample the big lake’s chill, but they usually don’t last long. One night, a couple of families showed up with a tow-behind sauna and explored the temperature contrast between steam and Superior.
A single woman came by after the photo shoot. She found a spot down the shore and sat for a while, then lay down and covered herself completely with a white blanket. She lay on the rock that way for a long time without moving. Just one more way to embrace this big lake and its nurturing spirit.
At some point, as daylight ebbed and dusk came slipping over us, we kindled our fire on the rocks. Nothing big. Just a friendly little four-person fire.
It looked good and felt even better.
In the gathering darkness, a tiny yellow disc appeared in the eastern sky and hung there suspended over Lake Superior. It was Jupiter, one of our neighbors down the solar system block. The planet hasn’t been this close to Earth in decades and won’t be again until October 2129,
according to my friend Bob King and his “Astro Bob” sky blog
I’ll likely miss that one, but I trust somebody will be sitting where we were to catch it.