1. Mia at peace, our first morning in Saugatuck. Before breakfast (we would drive through the rain to find gooey rolls from Kismet Bakery and farm stand peaches) we climbed down the sixty-five steep beach stairs to the narrow strip of beach below our rental cottage. The water was cold against our calves, then comfortable, then irresistible. I stripped to my undies, checked the empty beach north and south and threw off the rest. Waded into the welcoming liquid, sank completely under. Mia joined me and we laughed and peed and bobbed. The morning was still and eerie. Thunder boomed like strange unseen artillery from the west without any answering flash of lightning. A light gray bank of storm cloud approached us in a line as straight as geometry though the darker gray morning sky. Mia's head and shoulders rising up out of the gentle swells, her slicked back hair, her dear survivor's face, so more precious, even more precious to me after her hard year, her strong dark eyebrows, her complicated smile with its tiny dash of scar from a second grade gym accident, my dear dear oldest daughter, soon to be thirteen, lit with the strange diffused overcast light and with that oncoming angle of storm behind her, I had to take a picture.
"I wish I had my camera," I told her and instead put my hands together, the thumb of one hand meeting the first finger of the other to frame her in the rectangle I made. Click. To remember our morning forever.
2. Nora in action, again, this time with Randy, poolside, at Fox Lake. We're entertaining friends, I'm floating (again) weightless in the warm water, glorying in the blissful weightlessness, spinning around just because I can when Randy's music mix switches into Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off." Nora jumps out of the pool, runs to the side by the speaker and starts to shimmy and shake to the beat. Randy joins her and their duet is funky, fast, funny and fearless. I stared, mesmerized, enchanted, terribly moved.
Nora is still a child for a few more moments, her voice still a piping lilt, her waist still thick and sturdy. Her eyes are still huge in her dear head that is proportionally large for her body. I still need to bow down to bring my face close to hers and that sacred bend to childhood and to this, this happy, sad, delicious, carefree, troubled, rainbow-squid-hat wearing little one is the most holy thing I can do in my life.
3. Back in Saugatuck (it really is My Happy Place, along with Todos Santos, Montana, and the California coast or is it wherever Sally and Erik are that I am so content?) before a hike in the Saugatuck Dunes State Park, I sat on the top step of the aforementioned sixty-five and ate a slice of Erik's homemade bread slathered with Kismet butter and Sally's strawberry preserves. That is all, a perfect moment but my persnickety self insists that I admit the entire truth which is less flattering and a combination of the breakfast bread and the sparky moment an hour or so after as later on that hike a man I had never met, a friend of Sally and Erik's, an editor of a Chicago poetry journal, told me he read We All Fall Down and I flushed with confused pleasure. What? How? Sally? He was very kind and his compliments were a shot in the arm. I send out these dispatches into the ether and it blows me away whenever I hear from strangers, "I read your blog."