South Twin, Apostles – August 24, 2012
Lightning seems everywhere, flashing bright in the distance, cracking the dark night, making the horizon glow electric. I stare out, watching bolts split and fork from one horizon to the other. It sears white lines into my eyes that linger like ghosts in the darkness.
I hear nothing, only wind and waves, then thunder shatters through all other sound, arriving sharp, like the edge of a breaking world. A deep echo hangs in the air behind it until the wind swallows it all.
The thin fabric of my tent bends in and I feel like the wind might swallow me too. I sit up and lean against a wall, adding my bones to the aluminum frame and bending just the same.
The waves grow angry and violent outside, crashing up the beach on top of each other. In flashes of light, I see them rising to devour my few feet of sand. I spill out of the tent and into the darkness, pulling the boat closer, putting its seventeen feet between me and the waves like a makeshift breakwall.
Two lighthouses flash in the distance, their beacons spinning in a sea of dark waves. I stare out. For moments, the flashing lightning makes it daylight again and I can see the world, eerie and electric green, before it disappears back into the night.
When I wake up, a blue sky hangs over everything and the water barely ripples, but I look around and all my footprints are gone.
Everyone I meet tells me about the storm. Two sailors on Outer Island tell me their boat spun circles around the anchor in the swirling wind. A group of Northland College students tell me how the waves crashed against the dock on Devil’s Island and sent water splashing into the sky. A ranger tells me the horizon looked like fireworks as he drove up from Duluth.
We can’t stop talking about it. It’s like we all stare at the same blue sky and calm water and don’t believe that it wasn’t just a dream, just a ghost in the darkness.