West Michigan is extremely beautiful. There is so much to gawk at while one finds him or herself driving down the winding country roads or along the shoreline. Speaking for myself, I love driving by the beach. Lake Michigan is breathtaking—and all year round if I may add. There’s something about humans and bodies of water, that it grabs our attention. I can think of this certain bridge on the highway that my family takes when visiting our extended family in Indiana. In Southern Michigan, probably an hour or so away from the Michigan–Indiana border, there is a very tall overpass and beneath it lies this magnificent river. The trees around it brighten up the scenery in autumn when my family passes over the river every thanksgiving season. No matter how many times in my life I drive through that mile and a half stretch of highway, I will always be amazed by the river below me; amazed by the colors that so vibrantly dance on its surface; amazed by how water can make me feel so warm inside.
I can experience that same amazement in my own town. I live in the 616–our telephone area code that is–which covers a majority of what is considered West Michigan. Here in the 616, we are known for our plethora of churches (we are referred to as the bible belt of the north), our vast array of festivals, our conservative curve of MI, but most renown–our shorelines, beaches, and lakes. I have the pleasure of living minutes away from a body of water: Lake Michigan. Surprising or not, you won’t see me lounging on the beach every day in the summer. Lake Michigan–after seeing it for your whole life–isn’t a grand spectacle like it is for the tourists. There have been years I haven’t gone for a dip in the lake at all. But still, the lake is gorgeous, it’s fresh, not always as warm as the pool in my backyard, but satisfying to the soul when around it. Seven o’clock in the evening is my favorite time to drive by the beach or walk on the pier. The sky paints itself with vivid hues of oranges, reds, purples, blues; the sunsets are stunning. I never grow tired of watching the horizon or seeing a sun creep down, letting night fall upon us.
Some days I need to get that warm feeling in my chest or have my eyes be opened wide in astonishment, because through that I can find joy. When my world seems like it is spinning and there are so many decisions to be made and things to plan, sometimes I desire a relaxing evening of simply watching the sky transform, the water wade, the wind blow; I desire the sensation of the waves slowly reaching my toes, of sand getting on my feet and in my shoes; I desire the feeling of forgetting about what homework is in my backpack or what ever else I need to be doing, to just sit on the beach, on the end of the pier, in a car parked in the beach lot, and watch the lake. Even just this past weekend, as I spontaneously drove to the lake to clear my mind. And when I see the icebergs breaking and drifting away, the sand finally starting to peek out, the snow melting, and spring arriving, I am reminded of why I love the 616. I breathe in the crisp air, feel the sand hitting my face from the wind, and a sense of total peace falls over me. Lake Michigan can make any stressful week better. Lake Michigan never ceases to take my breath away. I’m thankful I live so close to this beautiful creation.
I love Lake Michigan.
I love the 616.
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