In Anticipation of a Day at the Beach

June 18, 2008, 10:30 am; posted by
Filed under Articles, Erin, Featured  | 1 Comment

It really isn\’t a very good beach day at all, if truth be told. Three out of three weathermen on the three out of three reliable channels picked up by my TV antenna prophesied, “Sunny with a high in the mid-80s, with just a breath of wind from the southwest,” but they have been proven wrong once again.

I should feel bad for meteorologists, really. Their entire career is like one very dysfunctional relationship with a mean, nasty, vindictive partner: the weather. It can\’t be predicted, or controlled, or reasoned with, but for some reason they stick with it, treating it nicely and using words like “stationary front” to describe a disastrous atmospheric battleground. I can just see Joe Kopecek of WZZM 13 West Michigan now, shaking his head as the little animated arrow misses the target of “accurate weather prediction”\’ once more, while the lunchtime news anchors laugh a little too gleefully. Fickle wench, he\’s probably thinking. Must be that time of the month.

But despite how much I should feel bad for the meteorologists, I can\’t muster up the sympathy. It\’s a selfish reason: today was (and is!) going to be a day at the beach. I\’ve called up my closest friend, we\’re rummaging around for some SPF 92.9 (I\’m Scotch-Irish, you ball of flaming skin cancer, you!), and looking sadly but resignedly at our bathing-suit-clad bodies in the mirror before slipping on some shorts and tank tops. It\’s a 50-minute drive to our favorite beach at Kruse Park in central Muskegon, and we are going to make a day of it.

The weather, however, really doesn\’t want to cooperate. What was supposed to be mid-80s is, by my porch thermometer, 97. Not so bad, you may be thinking. All the better to go swimming in. I grant you this, but 97-degree weather coupled with a strong wind is NOT good beach weather for two major reasons:

1. Rip tides. The most underrated danger about Lake Michigan, which is full of deceptive sandbars. Once you get out past the sandbar, the tide pulls you further and further out. And of course, the tides are stronger as the wind gets stronger.

2. Sand. Let\’s face it, sand is the devil. I may have read one of my favorite novels, Dune, upwards of 20 times, but romanticizing a desert planet won’t make for a wonderful day at the beach when sand is constantly getting lodged in your every orifice.

Weather notwithstanding, we are headed to the beach, hip-hop blaring from my car Evita\’s speakers, windows down, toting thermoses of lemonade and sandwich bags of grapes and peanuts (traditional beach food). Getting through Muskegon\’s busy streets is a breeze in the early afternoon, and soon enough we are on Sherman Avenue, heading due west. As we chat, I notice much heavier traffic coming toward us. It\’s not that odd, I suppose, for the part of town that we\’re in, but still”¦

We get to the beach and stop off briefly at the bath house. Parking Evita in the shade, we lug our towels, munchies, and obligatory chick lit up and around the beautiful boardwalk (another tradition). From the northernmost point we can see the channel and the high-speed ferry inching its way toward Wisconsin, and at the southernmost we have to turn around, giggling and running away, because we accidentally got caught in a wedding party trying rather pathetically to take pictures.

The wind has died down only slightly as we make our way to the beach itself. The waves are huge, the whitecaps beckoning like whipped cream on top of blueish-green sherbet. I decide to lay out for a bit and soak up some carcinogens while delving into my book. The wind is picking up more and more, blowing sand painfully into my eyes, and we decide that we might as well get in the water now. It\’s cold for late July and refreshing, but the wind whips soreness into our ears if we stay above the water for very long. We don\’t venture out to the sandbar for safety\’s sake, but float closer to shore, telling those deep secrets you only tell to close friends on a day at the beach.

We talk so long, floating on our backs, that neither of us see the storm clouds coming closer from the south until a raindrop hits my nose. Running back to our towels, the sand stings more than ever. We stuff all of our things into the beach bags and trudge back to the car, drenched from the lake and the rain. We proceed to soak the seats of my car, rolling up the windows in vain, driving home in a rather glum mood.

Oh well, I\’m sure we both are thinking. They forecasted better weather for next Tuesday”¦


1 Comment to “In Anticipation of a Day at the Beach”

  1. Chloe on July 3rd, 2008 5:48 pm

    Oh, Erin. You’re a fantastic writer. Fickle wench! I love it!

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