We missed last year's pilgrimage because Charlie was too small, but I wasn't going to let another season go by without a trip to the big lake. For a while there it seemed like it was going to be an unpleasant day of children with bad attitudes. Those people who thought the DVD player in the van would be a great help to parents didn't think about how it can instantly become a source of contention and a vehicle for the worst selfishness to come out. Lunch also was just short of disaster with the kids. We pushed our picky eaters with the New Scenic Cafe (local, organic, wonderfully grown up). A verdict of "NO PIE" came down, but was rescinded because we just didn't have the heart not to stop at Betty's.
Now, I have had many inauspicious trips to Lake Superior. In fact, here's the top five list (in reverse order of horribleness):
1. Morning sickness setting in at the beginning of a long-anticipated vacation.
2. Angry, twelve-year-old Nate walking off in the middle of Duluth.
3. Losing my glasses at Park Point during a work trip after having too much to drink and having to get a trial pair of contacts in order to drive home.
4. Hydroplaning on I-35 by Hinckley and spinning across the median into the opposite side of the highway, while miraculously not dying or even severely hurting my car.
5. Being on vacation with my first husband and his parents and realizing that our marriage was over and I was in love with someone else.
You would think that after all that, I would avoid that place. I can't. I love that wild, beautiful, dangerous lake so much and will always be drawn to it. Luckily, today was not an inauspicious trip. Despite all the crankiness that just confirmed my opinion that too many material comforts bring out the worst in people, especially children, once we hit the beach, everything changed. The boys, big and little, were drawn to the same things that I am - those beautiful stones, lapping waves, twisted wood washed ashore, tankers and sailboats. They frolicked and climbed, not as rivals, but as brothers enchanted by the power of the inland sea. As I watched them, I was grateful that I could give them something so wild and free (something that would surely have been forbidden from my childhood) and that they could enjoy it without even thinking about it. Conflict returned on the drive back when we were once again in the thrall of movies and music choices, but now I know that they have not yet lost the capacity to live in the real world - both terrible and wonderful.