I am all bundled up, walking gingerly on snow-covered ice. Flocks of robins find exposed crab apples from last August. The urban look of spring is black snow, oily streets. I am learning to give in to the cold; the weather offers no choice. This is how we are ground down, made bare.
Sometimes, I think it would almost be easier to choose death. With the recent news of my brother, 4 years my younger, dying of cancer and a little too much fun, this is where my mind goes. He aways lived a life of party, stories and adventure. He was the one scuba diving in Lake Michigan alone at the age of 16. My father dropped him off at the top of the beach with a warning to be careful. Then off to work at American Motors on Capital Drive. He couldn’t be late. It was a time clock he punched. My brother alone with all his gear, could only watch the car disappear. Only later, when he was a grown man could he wonder how Dad could have so easily dropped him off. But that was how dad handled a son who always had a mind of his own. No doubt Dad’s work day was filled with worry for his son alone in the hugeness of Lake Michigan.
Today, I walk along the ice floes of Lake Michigan. I see the red pier we kids jumped from. We hurled ourselves into the waves with crazy abandon, and resurfaced to laugh and cheer each other on. It was August, and the lake had finally warmed up. We had been monitoring its temperature since June. I see the sea wall now cracked and half taken over by the land. That’s where I first kissed my boyfriend. We huddled against the wind, a day of skipped school. I loved the cold and wildness of the place. The experience defined me as a naturalist and fed my desire to learn more and advocate for the wild places.