There is a body of water called Sleeping Bear Bay, found in the Manitou Passage in northern Michigan. At the point were the Crystal River snakes through the mainland and meets this bay, several large boulders can be found harboring just below the surface in water that is 6′ deep.
I first encountered these 18 years ago as I skimmed over them in my Sunfish, shocked that they suddenly appeared in the pristine water and equally amazed that my teak center board didn’t auger right into them and throw me from the boat.
These rocks vary in size from that of a riding lawn mower to a Cooper Mini… and… they are always there.
We just returned from a trying week of camping in that area. After several nights of dealing with rain and efforts to remain dry, and days filled with a constant flow of chores, we found ourself checking into the resort who’s property provides access to the beaches where the boulders rest. Being at the resort immediately relived us of almost all responsibilities other then putting on sunscreen (and paying for the room tab).
This summer has provided me and my family with some substantial health challenges and it was our hope that the camping trip would divert our thoughts to an abundance of peaceful moments and emotional recess. But it wasn’t until we checked into the easy-life at the resort did this happen.
So when it came time to snorkel out and encounter the rocks it was more then just something to do… it was a 30 feet of submerged breast stroke that represented a return, homecoming, a connectivity with something that I was as sure would be there as I am the sun will come up in the east.
I suspect for all of us there is a gravitational pull we feel when we encounter our own specific core elements. For me it’s clean water in a natural setting. When ever I’m near it, great strength is required to prevent me from diving in. For others its the mountain peaks, the wooded trails, the urban dinner, the boat with full sail.
It took my son to point it’s location out to me from shore but once I found the first set of boulders (“it’s that dark spot right there dad”), I knew I could find the second set that is even further out in deeper water. As I submerged to the bottom of the lake to explore the smaller bowling ball size rocks and crawfish clustered around the base of these boulders, I felt an instant wave of peace fill me, a return to times when I was 8 and doing this all day at my grandparents was all I did… and I got better and better at it as the summers went by. I knew where the old stacked logs on the bottom of Grand Traverse Bay by their cottage are, where that old large linked chain was half submerged in bottom sludge 18 ft. down..
It’s amazing how a granite John Deere can be so much more then a rock, how in the right perspective it can be a bridge to a much more peaceful place. A bridge that will always be there to a place that is only in my mind but will always be there too.
Now I swim to the deep rocks and turn to watch my brave young kids swim with all their faith that I will be there to insure they will land safely on the rocks… the circle keeps turning.
I carry a small potesky in my pocket every day to remind me of the solidity things like these boulders represent in my life, the solidity my family represents in my day and the memories of a simpler world.