Photographing Lovers and Strangers: Pilgrimage to Lake Michigan

Photographing Lovers and Strangers: Pilgrimage to Lake Michigan
February 21, 2014

I am late getting to Lake Michigan today. Everything is melting and the water out beyond the breakwaters is the richest most amazing cobalt blue. Refreshing.

I’m not alone. Couples walk along the promenade. A pair of lovers holding hands peer over the wall’s edge. Taking turns, one leans forward while the other leans back, balancing. Each one alternating to look down into the ice patterns. Beings, bearing one another in safety.

I take a picture for a young couple who asks me to. “I assume you want the lake behind you?”, and they laugh. Unfortunately, with the sun going low in the sky, it is hard to find a place for my shadow. It looms across their faces or spreads like a specter beside them. They say it’s OK and they don’t mind, but I move around trying to solve the puzzle.

In their photo they stand, ginning broadly, the sublime expanse of the thawing lake at their backs. The warmth of the setting sun glows on their faces made more naive by the phantom form stretching out at their side. I imagine them looking at the photo later; seeing why I fussed. Will they save or delete?

I consider the billions of these chance encounters taking place every day; happenstance documented. Dickens would have this moment a premonition, foreshadowing some larger, later event.

Another cryptic message painted onto the concrete has been revealed by the thaw. “Keep This Close”. I enjoy the ambiguity; the invitation to multiple readings. It could be an admonishment to enjoy the lake more, to protect it, or a gentle safety directive.

Very slippery underfoot now. The combination of rain and on-again/off-again thaw has turned the snow to packed ice. I need cleats on my boots.

I turn to go. The weekend beckons.


Want to get an email when a new post is live? Type your email address in the box and click the “Subscribe” button. Spam free. Opt out any time.

Leave a comment