Ours is the only car in the parking lot on this Sunday afternoon. My husband and I walk north along the Lake Michigan shore, pulling on gloves and putting up hoods. It might be twenty degrees on the thermometer but it feels like zero.
Below zero when you factor in the wind chill that freezes my eyelashes. I swing my arms and pick up the pace. The footing is firm because the sand is frozen solid. Then, when I’m finally warm, I need to stop and dig a Kleenex out of a pocket for my runny nose.
It’s a good chance to stare and listen. Strange to be on a beach and not hear waves, but they’re lapping against the ice far out in the lake where white turns to dark blue against the horizon. In the silence I hear the creak of ice floes like voices in a conversation.
The sun has dazzle without warmth, a pale yellow disc in the southern sky. For a moment I wish it was summer again, that I was wading in bare feet and stepping over sand castles, dodging dogs and children.
In July, of course, I never yearn for February. We rarely prefer the harder path but sometimes—like today—I glimpse its harsh beauty.