“Make sure you get the bike,” he says, sidling closer to the petite blond woman at his side.
We’re at Cutface Creek rest stop on the north shore of Lake Superior, where the breeze blows frigid off the water, even though it’s mid-July. The man wears a navy blue sweatshirt advertising a carwash, the woman a black leather jacket zipped all the way to her neck. I step back, crouch a bit to get more of the Harley in the frame. I’d zoomed in to focus on their faces, but now I realize the bike is important, too.
My sister and I walk to the beach, our sons sprinting ahead of us. At the base of the stone steps is a large, flat boulder, its surface warm from the sun. We sit side by side, soaking in the heat as the boys throw rocks into the water. We are quiet. Jeanine opens a book. I palm water-smooth rocks and stare at the horizon.
A ways up the beach two men hunt for rocks – this particular spot is known for its agates and Thomsonite. The men carry plastic soda bottles with the bottoms sliced off, holding them upside-down by the caps. The older man with the worn fisherman’s hat and the brown, gold-toed socks tucked into Tevas seems to be something of a rock expert. “You’re a quick learner, you’re getting it,” he says, clapping the taller, younger man excitedly on the back. The two crouch at the water’s edge, forearms resting on thighs, peering into palms held wide open.
“Everyone’s got their thing,” I say to Jeanine.
“Hmmmm?” she replies, not looking up from her book.
“I mean, everyone has something that makes them tick, that puts spring in their step and fires them up. Like the couple with their motorcycle. And these guys with their rocks.”
My sister’s not really listening. But it’s okay, because I’m excited by my own epiphany. It makes me happy to realize, quite suddenly, that the world is comprised of people who love motorcycles and people who love rocks. With people who love books and people who love people. Strangely, this realization buoys my faith in humanity.
The boys could stay at the water’s edge all day, but the sun is sinking lower and there’s spaghetti to cook back at the cabin. We climb the stairs to the parking lot. The Harley couple is long gone, but as I glance back at the water one last time, I spot the two men standing shoulder to shoulder. Their upside-down soda bottles are full to the brim with rocks.