I just had time for a walk, I decided. It was the last day by the lake; we had to be out by 10 am, and there was still cleaning and packing to do, but there was still time for a walk, I decided.
It was almost chilly; there was mist between the trees, and I wished for just one more layer than my sweater. It was silent; sunbeams peeked between the trees on one side, the misty lake on the other.
The beach access wasn’t far. It took me maybe six minutes to walk there. I slowed down as I struggled against the sand, each step taking more effort in its deep softness. Trees gave way to beach grass, and I could see the blue and gray of the sky stretching from trees to horizon.
Once I was at the water, I stopped. It lapped softly at the pebbles of the beach, a vivid demarcation of water and land. I looked for the high tide mark before remembering that lakes don’t have tides, that there was no smell of salt in the air. The pebbles were smooth and a veritable rainbow, for pebbles: greys and browns and tans, with a few that were white or black or dotted and spotted and streaked with several colors and shades. I picked a few up, rubbed the sand off, put them back. I wanted to find one to take home and use as a worry stone, but in the end I decided to leave it as I found it.
The water whispered in rhythm. Again I watched it come in and out, in and out. The edges of the water curled, broke, retreated, but otherwise the lake was almost still. It was a moment of self-presence, a moment where I could drink in the beauty and let it make me brave enough to sit with myself, to listen to myself.
And then I checked my phone for the time. It was probably time to head back, to pack and have breakfast and strip the beds and say my goodbyes. Walking back, picking my way over the sand again and watching a red-wing blackbird flee from my clumsy presence, walking more confidently on the road, I rejoiced in this moment I’d had, how small it had been. It had been fifteen minutes since I left the house, on a tiny beach. These moments of beauty and stillness didn’t need hours, didn’t need something exactly right, didn’t need a set time. They could happen in a few moments. And I rejoiced in that, too.