We Were Beach Girls
Welcome to the first official Fired-Up Friday blog. It’s the beginning of summer, and although it’s been a little chilly this past week, here in southwest Michigan it also means the beginning of beach season. If you are familiar with this side of the state, you know that we have some of the best beaches anywhere and they are all on the shores of Lake Michigan. In the words of singer/songwriter Gordon Lightfoot, Lake Michigan “steams like a young man’s dreams.” I’m not sure she’s steaming yet, but give it another month. Yet the temperature of the lake doesn’t seem to deter the people, both locals and visitors, who frequent the beach. It draws people like flies to honey, and on any given summer weekend beaches are the place to be. Visitors flock to the beach towns that line the sunset coast. People who have moved away come home to see their favorite beach, and local folk just pray for them all to go home so they can have the beach to themselves again.
When I was a teen-ager I was a beach girl. My friends and I would spend every available afternoon basking in the sun, playing in the lake, and hoping someone would have a beach party at night. We didn’t think about sunburns (although I’ve had more than a few) and baby oil was liberally applied to facilitate deeper tans. Who knew that in later years we would learn all that sun-worshipping could lead to skin cancer? The beach was the place to meet your friends and hang out, day or night. This corner of Michigan is blessed to have a choice of beaches, and we made it a practice to hit them all. If you had a summer job that you worked at night, it was great because then you could go to the beach in the afternoon. It was nirvana.
Some years ago I read a book called Beach Girls by the wonderful author Luanne Rice. She writes of beaches but in a different place, from her view on the ocean. But the sentiments of her characters mirror those we felt when we haunted our Lake Michigan beaches. If you read any of her books, you will learn what it’s like to be a beach girl. I'm happy to say I also raised a beach girl, who always tries to spend one day of a summertime visit home at the beach.
I don’t visit the beach much anymore. Mostly we just drive-by, but it’s always something to do on a summer evening—go drive by the beaches and see what’s happening, maybe stay to watch the sunset. A road trip up the Lake Michigan coast will take you to many a spectacular beach, and it’s worth it to check out every one. I sometimes feel we take our beautiful beaches for granted, but I have never stopped believing we do have the best. And even if I don’t lay out there and bake in the sun or dip my toes in Lake Michigan as I used to, I think I’ll always in my heart be a beach girl.