Barbara Bever and Jules Rolfe

Jules Rolfe
Giving Hands

Inspiration piece

Lake Effect
Barbara Bever


The cold broom of Canada’s winter sweeps across Lake Erie and dumps a dustbin of powdery snow on the southern shore. Weathered, match-stick fences strive to keep the beach road passable for the heavy-laden woman braving the bitter day. Her white-whiskered Labrador snuffles the fluffy depths in search of a burrowing winter hare. It’s not the woman’s thick coat that keeps her warm today, but rather the flotsam and jetsam of her life bobbing upon the shore of memory.

She recalls the toddler in a tulip-shaped sun bonnet sitting on a faded cotton bedspread that once blanketed a grandmother’s wedding bed. She’s sipping icy Kool-Aid from a waxy paper cup and nibbling on a sandy Sunbeam sandwich. Silver dollar poplars rustle restlessly above weather-beaten picnic tables hosting families frying eggs and bacon on summer Sundays. Sea gulls screech overhead as children squeal at the water’s edge, toes testing the memory of the artic waters of winter. Plastic sand pails, shovels and castle molds litter the beach with their bright color. Yet her memories easily disintegrate like forgotten toys left to the harsh summer sun and brittle winter winds.

She once read a story about bright yellow rubber ducks that broke free of their container ship and traveled round the world. She, too, escaped this place of her birth in search of distant lands, washing up in rocky ports and welcoming harbors. But the travel took its toll on her and those ducks. Over time, the ducks become nothing but round little pellets of faded glory on the sands of Alaska, Hawaii, or Scotland. Nothing is left of her own brilliance and beauty. But unlike the remnants of the ducks, she will not remain on the coast of life forever. When her ashes are strewn into the body of water from which she came, all trace of her will be gone.

The old dog noses her thick glove and urges her back to the warmth of the hearth. She turns away from beach as a gray cloud passes over the winter sun. The snow crunches under her thick boots as they head home.

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