Wednesday, June 16, 2010


The Ridges Sanctuary in Bailey's Harbor, Door County, Wisconsin, is a protected area where water and wind action have formed berms of sand parallel to shore. Within walking distance from Lake Michigan, one can stroll the ancient beach boundary at a distance from the present shoreline. Away from the surface water of the lake, the sand mounds have been in place for so long that the continued geological movement of gentle hill upon hill of sand sand is muted by emerging ferns, trees, ground vines and stubble growing through the surface.

Trees have ridges too but we call them rings. Examining the rings on a stump reveals the story of the tree. There is a ring for every year of growth. Some tree readers are so good at interpreting the story through the rings that it is possible to determine if a particular year during the life of the tree was drought or water abundant from the position of one ring in relation to the next.

My fingernails have ridges. Deep tracks across the surface of the nail as if a window casing had come down hard without cracking the nail nor leaving a bruise but indenting with indeliable impression. Each depression is a clear, 1/4" track running across the nail, most distinguishable on the thumbs. These ridge lines are caused and consequence of chemo. Even though I have been subjected to chemo upon chemo, I still can not imagine a chemical so toxic that even the nail bed scars. A cancer reader could tell part of my story from looking at my thumb. I watch my nail growing and the ridge line moving with the growing nail closer to the tip. One day the ridges in my nails will be ancient history.

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