August 15th, 2013. Lake Michigan. I walk down the sandy path and turn the bend. The sand gives way to stones, round and bleached in the sun. My excited stride is hindered by the stones, and after what seems like ages, my feet reach the ice cold, pellucid water. I throw back my head and bask in the sun, which is sweltering compared to this substance that bites eagerly at my toes, but, remembering I am here on a mission, I get back to business.
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“What do they look like?” I ask my dad.
“Beautiful, but their beauty can only be seen when they are wet.” he responds.
Taking his advice, I begin looking, wading out into the water up to my knees. The stone blanket that greeted me on the shore extends for miles, disappearing underwater. This is where I will find what I am looking for. My eyes examine each rock, easily discernable underneath the clear water, and finally my eyes pick one out among the others. I reach under the water and pick it up. A Petoskey stone. It’s alluring pattern, many small circular, symmetrical markings, mesmerizes me. This is it. From long ago, when what is now Lake Michigan was an expanse of churning, animated ocean, thriving with coral reefs. A different time, an ancient time, a time encapsulated in this piece of stone through the fossilized coral, in my palm. As my thoughts wander to prehistoric places, the stone starts to dry out in my hand. In only a couple of minutes, the patterns of the coral had receded, and left nothing in it’s place to ever acknowledge their existence. Desiring the beauty that I had just witnessed, I submerged the stone back into the water. The patterns immediately reappeared, as brilliant as before. Wanting to share my newfound treasure, I rush to my dad, who was himself immersed in the act that had just granted me this treasure.
“Look, I found one!” I say, my excitement evident.
“Wow” he says, admiring the stone alongside me. He then tells me that his summers as a child were spent wading in the water, searching for Petoskey stones as well. I sense nostalgia in his voice, and now I realize why we have come.
I am fully present. Likewise, when I look at the billion year old stone in my hand, I am taken to another place. It takes me to a place primordial, mysterious, unarranged by the hand of man. When my dad looks at the stone, it takes him to a different place, sacred and pure, his youth. We are here to immerse ourselves in the timelessness that nature grants us and it’s reminiscent qualities. The Petoskey stone is the time capsule waiting to be unearthed, and I, my dad, we, are here to find it.
After an afternoon of uninterrupted bliss, we reluctantly return to reality and leave; but the Petoskey stones will always be there, lying in wait on the bottom of Lake Michigan, for their unending beauty to be discovered by another.
I look back once more, and my hand slips into my pocket and cradles the cold, dry stone, it’s beauty in hiding for the moment.
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