It’s early morning and I’m walking along the Lake Erie shoreline in an area of private beach-front homes. These are big windowed structures built on high slopes and protected by rock walls from the destructive force of Great Lakes storms.
I sense I’m being watched and I look up and see someone on a screened porch. Maybe it’s someone who sits every morning with their coffee enjoying their view of the lake and the beach. Maybe they follow the seagulls and vultures. Or watch the occasional walker pass by, like me.
At this spot, where the water laps the shore, sits a rock the size of a laundry basket. It’s a beautiful rock that would look fine in my garden. I stop and squat down in front of the rock and wrap my arms around it as far as I can, then imitate one of those Olympic weightlifter clean and jerk moves and heave the rock up and over my shoulder, my hands held high over my head balancing the weight and the size.
Of course, I can’t move the rock a single millimeter (Canada, metric system). But I keep my arms held aloft as if I had, and my legs buckled and staggered under the weight as I carried the rock along the beach. I mimed this entire performance just to give the person sitting up on their screened porch a chance to say, “What the hell is wrong with that guy?”
But even after I’m past that house I keep carrying my rock, my arms high, my legs tiring, the weight bearing down on me. But I push on. I’m enjoying my effort. Eventually I realize how ridiculous I must look. I set the rock down. I rub my exhausted arms and legs.
And then I see this giant pink flamingo floating in the lake, the biggest specimen I’ve ever seen. I call out but it acts as if it doesn’t see me. Won’t even turn its head in my direction. Flamingos are known to be a bit standoffish.