Sunday, August 14, 2005

The solace of Ruggles, and I don't mean the ice cream

While on vacation this week at my annual casual family reunion, I was lazily taking in some sun on my favorite pier when I came across an article in Real Simple magazine. The article, ironically was on placed which change and touch our lives in simple ways just by being a place of sweet refuge & growth - a constant always there to return to. The article was sweet, it made me search my consciousness for such a place in my own life.
As I laid there glistening in the too-hot midwestern sun listening to the gulls and enjoying the light breeze whipping my loose hairs into my eyes and mouth, I completely missed the fact that not only does such a spot exist for me, I was there.
On Lake Erie between two tiny towns there is a little place called Ruggles Beach. It's only about a block long with little cottages crammed in two and three deep between a steep hill and the state route. Next to the cottages along the road is a well-hidden faded sign stating hotel & motel since 1912 and a gravel road. Once our car crunches onto that gravel in early August every year I'm home.
Immediately a small three-story white hotel and behind it a slightly larger mint green two-story lodge come into view. At the rear of the lodge is a small porch which steps out onto a wide green lawn spotted with trees. At the edge of the lawn is a steep incline and steps leading down to the beach. My beach.
The first time I visited this beach I was barely two months old. On this beach I built sandcastles, learned to swim (earning myself the nickname "Molly the mackerel", I watched meteor showers (though I rarely saw much), fireworks, sunsets & fireflies. It was on this beach a guy first dared to slide his hand under my bra, while inwardly despite my adolescent hormonal thrill, I fretted that our parents would happen to glance down the hill and see us. It was here I first suffered writer's block, as I sat on that same pier at night, overwhelmed by my love for this place, the only time I have been so overwhelmed by emotion except the first time I kissed my husband. It was also here that my husband and I spent our first family event as a married couple - just a month after our honeymoon a year ago.
This year we arrived worn and weary from a hard winter and the hottest summer I can remember. As I sat writing this on my last full day on the lake of 2005 I realized that I was home. The stress of the extremely wearing first year of our marriage had left us closer since our marriage was the only good thing that happened to us, but somewhat raw. I knew driving away the following day the soothing calm we were experiencing would begin to ebb away, only to be replaced with my longing for August of 2006.

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