Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Machines Give

This all happened before.  Before, on the third day of our trip, after the bike rode away, but before everything else, we took a detour.  We drove out to the Canadian shores of Lake Eerie.  It was hot that day, and, due to the strikingly thin girl with the alarmingly loud nasal tones sleeping beneath me in the spindly hostel bed,  we had risen early giving us many hours of sunlight to enjoy.  Our drive as short that day, and the heat, combined with the proximity of a great lake, pushed us towards the water.

We drove through cows and corn and potatoes.  We drove in the heat alongside a lake that never appeared.  We began to doubt our navigational skills.  We were going to forsake our nautical dreams for the more attainable iced cream and air conditioning when, alas, there appeared a house on stilts, sitting between the reeds and its neighbors on a watery lane.  Intriguing.  Where are their cars I wondered; they are so far from civilization they must need transportation for food, for beer, for the TVs on which to watch the hockey game.  Or perhaps not - their yards a shining, turquoise sea devoid of the sticky salt and the bone-numbing chill.  The sand was white, the trees smooth and shady.  The beach stretched lazily out before us.  We hurriedly parked.  We changed behind open car doors and wrapped towels.  We ran over the scalding shore and dove into the blue.

The lake was eerie in a way; from a distance the waves were perfect, they were colored powder and as clear as plastic.  Once underneath, however, my open eyes could not see the hands stretched in front of me, only a strange, intangible murk.  But it was warm and so utterly swimmable.

It is polluted, my uncle informed me later that night as we sat on a stone and screen porch munching delicious, Detroit pizza.  Lake Eerie, we learned to our utter dismay, used to be the most polluted great lake (perhaps the explanation behind the unnaturally-Mediterranean hues, I muse).  Hopefully the status has changed with more stringent environmental laws.

My aunt and uncle are socialists.  They are brilliant in a way I cannot fully understand, as I do not lend myself to the laborious study of such heady political theorists.  I prefer Sophocles and his plays.  Their house is beautiful.  It is tactful and honest and breathes intelligence.  It is full of art and books and wonderful, wooden and wool furniture.

As we drive into the opaque Nevadan air, I vaguely wonder that my aunt and uncle would say about this gambling land.  It is polluted on so many levels and no laws will change that.  Only we can hope to change ourselves.