Sunsets on Good Harbor Bay

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Summer holds a different meaning for me now than it once did. Living in the Deep South, I very openly dreaded its arrival even though it meant being out of school for over two months. That, of course, was the part of the year that was labeled summer. In truth, summer begins long before June in South Louisiana — arguably sometime around late April, depending on who you ask.

For me, summertime meant intense sunlight that would quickly scorch you back into the shade. It meant mowing grass when the air was heavy with heated moisture — like breathing with a hot, wet blanket over your head while huddled around a vat of boiling water. It meant the ever-present threat of tremendous afternoon thunderstorms when the sky would darken to surprising shades of evening just before ripping apart and drenching everything in a sudden downpour. It meant an onslaught of blood-sucking insects and arachnids to rival Old Testament times. Sometimes just stepping out of the front door and heading to the car meant running while simultaneously slapping your neck and shins alternately (it is a skill I acquired, though I’m glad there is no film footage). In short, summer was a mixed bag of possibilities to be both enjoyed and feared.

When you’re as big a fan of chilly weather as I am, summer will always remain a mixed bag. But, here on the peninsula, surrounded by the waters of Lake Michigan and its many bays, escaping the perils of summer is much easier.

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Not far from home is one of my favorite summer escapes: Good Harbor Bay. There’s nothing like enduring a long, hot day working in the garden or simmering in your own juices in the kitchen and then piling into the car for a quick jaunt to stick your feet into the icy waters of the bay and watch the colorful sunsets and cinematic cloudscapes.

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Walking along the shoreline, your bare feet among the sand, rocks, and thrilling chilly surf… a day, a week — a whole list of worries and troubles are washed away almost instantly. From here, you can see the jagged coast of the peninsula as it meanders on northeastward into the advancing darkness or — glancing across the glassy blue into the northwest — you can see North Manitou Island shrouded in mist, looking as serene and isolated as ever, illuminated by the last few moments of daylight.

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And, best of all, though you may return to the same spot on the sand evening after evening, you’ll never see the same show twice! The sky will have a different story to tell each time. The setting sun and the glistening lake will dance to a different tune.

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On our most recent sunset, the clouds were particularly interesting to me. As we sat on the beach with our feet in the water, the clouds moved in and out of one another, moving ever northward, catching pink and golden rays, making the waters of the lake glow beneath them even though the sun had already disappeared over the dunes to the west. “That one looks like a dove taking flight… and now it looks like a ship…”

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Before you know it, the sun is completely gone and you likely have the beach entirely to yourself. The moon has risen over the sleepy forest behind you and another day of summer has come and gone.

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Summer does mean more to me now than it used to — admittedly it’s because I have winter to compare it to! Daylight is such a fleeting thing in winter that the long, summer days — when evening waltzes in around 10pm — are a welcome bliss.

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~ by Jason on August 28, 2012.

11 Responses to “Sunsets on Good Harbor Bay”

  1. Beautiful!! I’d be collecting those lovely rocks like mad, much to the chagrin of my guy…. ♥

    • It’s hard to resist collecting a few of them — I know! James and I have decided that we’ll only take the rocks that we absolutely cannot resist — the ones that are Petoskey stones, or just have interesting, rare features. The rest of them — regardless of their cool colors or granite designs — we leave them there. Otherwise, we’d eventually cart away the whole beach and we’d have a house full of rocks!

      • That’s EXACTLY the situation we find ourselves in, especially on hikes (fortunately, Dave’s often the heavy-backpack-holder) — focus on those special ones! The house is covered in “special” twigs, stones, and feathers as it is — but of course, distinguishing the unique is always a tedious task. Once, the waters were rushing into a cave, as I was trying to accomplish this task… With stones. 🙂

        p.s. I just looked up Petoskey stones, as I’ve never seen them — WOW! I’d lose it.

  2. I too enjoy the beautiful Good Harbor Bay. I just love the way you put it to words, Jason. On one of our last trips we were entranced watching three bald eagles. We are so lucky and my husband and I have learned that even in winter, the bay is beautiful. We were able to visit it many times last year because of the mild winter and hope to do the same this year! Enjoy!

    • Thanks, Carol. I’m not hoping for a mild winter again, this year, but I’m hoping we’ll be able to enjoy visiting the bay when it’s blustery and perhaps frozen! Of course, instead of chairs, crocs, and beach towels, we’ll need ski masks, ear muffs, hats, gloves… 🙂

  3. This is so pretty, baby. Wish I was there.

  4. Careful guys!!! Taking stones, sand, almost anything from a National Park is prohibited. As a matter of trivial information, the National Park stops at the edge of the water. Hence, stones taken from the lake are fair game, while those on the beach are not. Here’s a great opportunity to be creative. Just sayin’
    Chuck

    • Though I’d not actually read that as a rule anywhere, I more or less assumed that to be the case. James and I have gathered rocks elsewhere on the peninsula, but not at the National Park. Interesting loophole, though!

  5. I enjoyed reading about how you view summer from a Southerner’s perspective. Our daughter can definitely relate now that she is living in southern Alabama! As a lifelong Northerner however, I would love to spend a summer in the South just so I might appreciate our winters a little.

    • Thanks, Shelley. Spending a summer in the south would certainly be a life-altering experience. From about April through September you’d experience the various levels of summer that practically gloss over spring, summer, and fall, up here. Having experienced 26 years of having only two seasons each year, I cherish having four unique seasons probably more than your average person. When I’m up to my knees in snow and haven’t seen the sun in weeks, I’m sometimes tempted to complain, but I try to hold my tongue! 😀

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