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  • If I remember nothing else at the end of my life, I say to myself, my face upturned to the dimming winter afternoon, let me remember this light. A skim of ice at the shoreline glows opalescent, and I close my eyes in reverence. Two Huskies yip in their dog run across the road, and I envy them this view. Every single day this lake. This road, these rocks, this point, this light.

    For some time now I have been living with a foot in two worlds, one here in northern Minnesota and the other in my southern everyday life of neighbors and gardens, dog walks and work. I've been moving between these worlds so long now, in fact, that the rhythm of it feels ordinary. When I am not at home in North Carolina, I am at home on Park Point, a little spit of land that reaches into Lake Superior at its southern tip, in Duluth. This place has shimmered in my memory and my imagination for more than 20 years, and it is a place to which I return again and again like a migratory bird.

    We are walking to the end of Park Point late one afternoon when M. stops a few feet in front of me and raises her gloved hand. We have crossed the invisible line at which the city vanishes and we are standing only before the vastness of Lake Superior. "Listen," she says. "Listen." M. is a woman who understands listening as a sacrament, so I do as she says. It occurs to me that I might look a bit like Nipper, the RCA Victor terrier, tilting my head like that.

    Right away I hear it too, and soon I am kneeling in the sand, stretching as close I can can toward the faint song beneath the crackle of ice. Were it not so thin (and how unusual to have such thin ice in January), I would stretch out on my belly and press my ear right against its surface. "Be careful," M. says. "You don't want to fall through."

    But part of me does want to fall through and into this music with its echoes of whale song and Jovian chorus. This lake is a world unto itself, and we are standing at a fragile threshold between its life and ours. This is what the ice is saying to me as I inch forward, straining to listen, my heart beating fast. We should always listen so closely, it says. We should always walk so lightly.
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