A year ago, I found myself walking along agate beach in the morning after watching the sunrise at Grand Marquis Island. I was already feeling peaceful and in harmony with nature. The beach was littered with beautifully colorful stones that had been polished by the water. Lake Superior can be calm or wild with waves. This particular morning the waters were still, but it was nevertheless apparent how the incessant rolling waves polished and cleaned the rocks, revealing their intense colors and smoothing them. I picked up several, rolling them in my hands, loving their weight and feel. I wasn't sure how to find an agate, or even what one looked like unpolished and still in its rough state, but it didn't matter. I really appreciated every rock I touched and saw.
Some of the rocks were deposited on the beach, the rest remained on the lake bed. When I waded, I felt the rocks under my toes as they in turn polished my feet. It created such a deep connection with this place for me that when I look back over these photos I can still remember the sensations I experienced when I waded into the lake and felt simultaneously united with the water and the earth. When we experience places through multiple senses and synesthesia occurs, it becomes easier to return to that place in the future blurring the demarcations of time and allowing memories to keep informing and shaping the present and future. For me, whenever I am in a stressful situation, this is the place I imagine in my mind to find balance and calm.
As I was walking, I arrived at one spot where a piece of driftwood had formed a makeshift shelf, allowing rocks to become stacked and maintain a balanced position between water and land. The textures, colors, and way the rocks were clustered made me think of a found still life. It was very Zen and I was utterly lost in the moment, appreciating all the patterns and the way that this scene was impacting me internally, allowing me to fell balanced and fully grounded amidst the fluidity of life and constant change I had experienced given that I'd been on the road for over a month. I was marveling at this found miracle when Adrian approached me.
Adrian was a Tribal Member and council member of the Mackinaw Bands of Chippewa and Ottawa Indians. I was immediately struck my his presence, authenticity, and penetrating gaze. We ended up talking for a long time, about how the rocks were alive, how this was a piece of paradise where the tribes hunted, fished, and gathered and how they should be allowed to continue to do this as they had done for centuries. He taught me many Anishinaabe words. I told him Takoda and I had been at Standing Rock. He told me about the Line Five Pipeline that skirted Lake Superior and went under Lake Michigan and Lake Huron and how to connect with Anishinaabe grandmothers to protest this antiquated line that was threatening the health of all the Great Lakes. (Here's a link to the blog I wrote about that: https://lynne-buchanan.squarespace.com/blog/2016/10/4/nokomis-ogitchida-line-5-rally-to-help-protect-the-great-lakes ) The time Adrian and spent together made me think of our connection with nature on a deeper level, how when we spend time looking closely and noticing the smallest rocks and marveling at how they came to be, we appreciate life in all its brilliance and we see how Mother Nature is the greatest artist of all. Adrian must have realized I understood him, since before I left he reached into his bag and found a rock with an agate in it and gave it to me. Whenever I pick up this rock, I am right back there on Agate Beach and I know I will do whatever I can to preserve this place that connected me pure water at the heart of the universe.