This Life Next Life

Our place on Lake Superior is home to many creatures, some of them dead.

One early spring, we came across a deer’s head lying on the beach. In the dead of winter, we’ve watched a fox and a coyote play hide and seek in the rising ice dunes.

At the end of one long-ago summer, after eating smoked fish and deviled eggs on our deck, drinking too much cheap wine, and talking about every worry we had ever had or would have, we sprinkled a much-loved dog’s ashes on the sand, the grey dust floating in the air while the sun went down.

A few years ago, the woman who once lived here stood on our deck and told us that, unbeknownst to us, her family had scattered their grandmother’s ashes on our beach. Sometimes from my window, I see a person look up at our house and back at the water and then sit down in the sand, sitting the way people do when they plan on thinking about something for a while, their arms wrapped around their knees.

When that happens, it occurs to me that we are living on what may be someone else’s holy place. How does one own a place where the ashes of a stranger are scattered?

Do I want to join our beloved dog and the other family’s grandmother in the sand of this place? Maybe have a fragment carried off by a crow, I’d be airborne then, maybe travel somewhere new, surprise someone else’s beach with my presence, lie in the sand through the seasons, feel the coyote’s feet, then the tourists, and the people looking for agates.

No, I want my time here to be as an alive person. This isn’t my burial place. It’s my lucky to be alive place.

And when I’m dead, I’ve already decided.

I want to become a tree. And trees, you know, don’t grow so well in the sand.


#78/100: 78th in a series of 100 in 100.


3 Comments on “This Life Next Life

  1. You got me smiling with this one. It is the first smile in two days because we had to abandon our trip around Lake Superior just as we were getting started because my husband got sick and needed to get to an ER. You just provided another few minutes of beach time that I missed. 🙂

    • I’m sorry to hear about your husband. I hope all is well soon and you can start your trip — leaves are already changing up here. A delay of a bit will mean you will get the most color.

      • We had been around the Georgian Bay and were headed north and west when we had to abort the trip. He decided he wanted to go back to the Soo (we were an hour away) and then home. They got him hydrated in the ER, but his fever still spikes when he stops the Tylenol and is very weak and foggy. Woe is me – I have had to do all the work including dumping the holding tanks. Even though I changed clothes, I was still smelling sewage when sitting in the ER. 😀 I think the trip will be on next Fall’s agenda – and you are right – the trees are beautiful up at your latitude.

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