Labor Day can kind of seem like summer’s Sunday, a day when technically you don’t have to work, but the idea of work and school and the amping up of every possible thing is on everybody’s mind, no matter how hard you try to enjoy the moments of the day. Fortunately, Labor Day 2009 made enjoying the moment as easy as possible, with forever blue skies and a temperature that ranged between almost perfect and perfect.
I have to admit that I did middle-aged man sorts of things for much of the day. I worked until 3, then headed home to mow the lawn. But yesterday, for some reason, mowing the lawn took on an end-of-summer’s meditation feel, just riding around on the mower, going in ever smaller circles, thinking about such deep things as, Gosh, the grass sure is long this time and considering that my two youngest kids are entering their senior year, and thinking we have to get the reverse fixed on the plow Jeep before the snow flies, and …
Dinner was a simple but marvelous end of summer assemblage of flavors: grilled pork tenderloin, patty pan squash sautéed in butter, boiled corn and a tomato & toasted bread salad (outstanding—you should try it). There was something about seeing it all come together on the plate that made me feel fortunate in that moment.
And then, with about a half an hour until sunset, my son Wyatt and I decided to tie the kayaks on the trailer and get in a quick paddle. The air was barely moving and the sky was clear, so the thought of being out on the water paddling in dark was alluring—was hoping to catch the gibbous moon rising. We headed down to Good Harbor Beach, on Lake Michigan, a few miles from our house, carried the boats to the water and slid them in. The sun had just set, and the horizon had a line of haze that glowed orange and purple and silhouetted Pyramid Point and North Manitou Island, icons of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Really magnificent. Though the air was calm, two-foot waves were washing in, probably from a freighter sliding through the Manitou Passage.
We didn’t paddle long, maybe 20 minutes down the coast and 20 minutes back. But by the time we returned, the stars were out and the sky was nearly dark, and the five bonfires on shore were reflecting in the water. The gatherings were small now, not the big summertime conglomerations of families and friends, more groups of three or four, chatting, probably, of what’s going to keep them busy this fall, and savoring, as we were, the lingering moments of summer’s Sunday.
Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine