An entry in the Michigan Chapter's Wilderness Essay Contest
By Gareth d'Haillecourt
As a child I played in the water of Lake Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes. My brother and I built sand castles with swirly bits of dripping sand, forming turrets, trying to beat each other at making the tallest. I waded and picked stones, and much to the consternation of Mother, carried home many pockets full, sand in the car, my clothes, my shoes.
As a wild young woman I log rolled my body down a Sleeping Bear dune and almost killed myself, much to the amusement of my friends. I had no idea it was so dangerous. As a log I'd have splintered into kindling. As a human body, I just bruised.
Now I am older, wiser, seasoned maybe. I look at those dunes and wonder who will come and plow them down to make a golf course. Who will trump God's creation on this marvelous shore? There seems to be a disconnect between the beauty of the dunes shining in the sun, the eddies of still water standing in the edges of sand, and the humanity that says "I love this", those who will turn their back when commerce reaches deeply into the heart of a hill. Are they blind?
The rolling relief of the dunes is a perfect painting any way you turn. The bare moments of grasses harshing out its life with wind and dryness becomes art for eternity. An occasional piece of driftwood or stone becomes a whole new project, something to copy in a drawing and make a landscape for future generations to remember this beautiful wild calm place.
Art does become this scene. Mankind doesn't have enough conscience left to leave it untouched. Maybe this old woman will roll down the dune again in some future protest if anyone tries, even dares, to molest these beautiful sands. I will keep a wary eye out for those pirates. But tomorrow I will plan my next trip to enjoy their beauty, lie down in the warm sand and meditate on this gift from Mother Earth. I will honor her with some art, a blessing, blow all the grains of sand a kiss. Every grain deserves that.