Seventy blocks north of Chicago’s “Loop” lies Loyola (Leone) Park beach. Of an evening or weekend, this 8-block long swatch of sand on the shore of Lake Michigan, is a gathering place for students from the nearby university and local families looking to enjoy a little packet of nature in this city of over 2.7 million.
And although the beach is rarely crowded, today it belongs solely to me.
It’s a mid-September afternoon and there is no one in sight. The sun shines brightly on the yellow sand, and there’s a chill in the steady breeze that always seems to be blowing inland. My own shadow is sharply delineated against a relief of stubble-grass. Each footfall plunges my shoe, laces-deep into sand leaving a string of micro-dunes that trace my aimless path.
In the distance, looking south, the magnificent cityscape fades to a uniform bluish-gray hue. All of its energy—the good, the bad and indifferent, dissipates into the haze. I am here to peer through a stand of trees at gentle waves that stumble to the shore wearing a frill of white caps. My thoughts drifting like it’s gently swirling tides.
The water is clear; the sand clean and lively. There is green space behind the beach which muffles the carking din of city traffic. So here in this place I am free to toss a piece of driftwood to the dog; to write poetry, or just wander quietly along the shore on a crisp afternoon in early autumn.