Enjoy the View That’s what the sign said that was just a few feet from the overlook of Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes. But the area was a total whiteout, wrapped in dense fog, hiding my view of the broad expanse of dunes and water. I could hear the faint sound of distant waves lapping at the shore below. I felt like a fool.
How had I driven over nine-hundred miles, to what had been described as the “most spectacular site in Michigan,” to be blocked by these low-lying clouds? Why hadn’t I checked weather conditions? When I set out on my solo journey, I’d payed close attention to my map but never consulted a weather forecast.
I stood in the fog and felt my frustration, beaten down, thinking all had been lost since I had to leave for home the next day. I really wanted to see the lake to know if the water was as blue-green as it appeared in pictures. Nothing drew me like turquoise water and to think I could come this close, so far without realizing my goal, was hard to accept.
Settle down, advised that still small voice of God within me. Just wait a while and you’ll figure out what to do. How many times had I heard that counsel in my life –always having to reign in my impatience and my tendency to blame myself, my first response.
I waited in a grove of trees that appeared dreamlike, shrouded in white. After a while, seeing no change, I drove back to the visitor center. The ranger said the front that had moved in wasn’t expected, a combination of weather factors that were infrequent in July.
“Could be better by tomorrow,” he said, and gave me the phone number for the park weather information and suggestions for re-routing my trip from the dunes.
I drove back to my hotel in Traverse City. I watched the weather channel and called the park number, determined to be on top of things this time. But later, tired of being in my room and my obsession to correct my mistake, I decided to enjoy the present and let go of what I couldn’t control. I spent the evening at a waterfront park, walking among the beautiful flowers and talking with my sons and husband.
The next morning on my return to the dunes, I stopped at a farmer’s market and purchased fresh cherries and a loaf of homemade sourdough bread. When I drove into the park, I held my breath, watching for fog. I climbed the steps to the observation platform.
“Oh my goodness!” The view was stunning. The dazzling blue-green expanse stretched as far as I could see. The dunes were much taller than I expected – thinking they would be like Jockey’s Ridge on the Carolina coast.
I couldn’t hear the water as I had the day before, in what had seemed like a small space. How the fog had distorted my perception. All of that was out there and I couldn’t see it; momentary conditions that blocked a grand view.
How many times have I missed things that were right in front of me, I wondered; temporary situations frustrating me and giving up without seeing things through.
I absorbed the tranquility of the tropical-appearing water and felt the wonder of that place. When I could no longer ignore the time, I drove south to Point Betsie Lighthouse.
Nestled among the sea oats, I pulled out my peanut butter to spread on the sourdough bread to eat along with the cherries. What a delicious lunch in the mid-day sun, watching the white caps. I wouldn’t have come to this spot if hadn’t been for my detour. Now I could return to North Carolina with the memory of dazzling Lake Michigan and the importance of waiting for the fog to clear.
What about you?
Have you ever felt that your error made you miss an important opportunity?
How did you handle your frustration with yourself?
How do you settle into the present rather than worrying about tomorrow?