The lake. Our lake.
The lake that captures western sun and turns glassy waters pink like salmon as day draws dusky. That captures eastern sky with new day’s brightness, flourishing crystal waters as an orange never-used crayon. That dawns with possibility and newness. Each day, as if untouched.
The lake that sees summertime memory making. Whose permanence is landscape to our memories. The backdrop for so little, yet so much: Horse shoe clinks. Badminton swishes. Dock jumping. Fledging friendships begun over sand castle architecture. Catching first fish. Rowing first boats. Grilling simple meals.
And yes, even the mosquito bites, the sunburns, the poison ivy, the late afternoon, sans-nap toddler, tantrum-ing and rife with wriggling, wet sandy bathing suit.
For memories, like life, we find, even here in this perfect haven, are punctuated with the good, the bad. Those light, airy, happy and those etched with tinges of sadness or regret. Because our yesterday and our today are not all sunshine and unicorns. Nor will our tomorrow be.
The lake that mirrors staggering old growth pines from island to shore. Alone. Unrippled. Undisturbed. Perfect. We dub it Tom Sawyer Island, our island in lake’s middle.
And even in the weeds, beauty. Rooted dozens of feet below surface in muddy, silty lake bottom. Lily – pad clustered flowers. Delicate mauves and lucent yellows. Pinks, radiant; greens, lush. Color brimming as we approach and admire up close in screeching, clunky rowboat. God’s gift to us, these nature’s decorations. These petals curving skyward. Giving homage, it seems, to the Lord. To the Author of creation.
And the summer sounds, the-unnoticeable-elsewhere-yet-intensified-here soundtrack of the lake. Whose continuous beat if set to metronome, would not falter:
Canoe and paddler rhythmically slicing glassy waters. A widening V disappearing, reappearing.
The insistent cicadas. Their shrill throbbing, near to hysteria, grabbing us, pressing into our consciousness, forcing us to notice. Louder, thicker. An awakening to the ever presence of God’s creatures. Even the insects we deem unappealing. These creatures, at the lake, our lake.
And above, azure skies hold chunky, ragged-edged clouds of pure white. Sailing, racing almost. Casting silhouettes of pine, of birch, of long necked Canada geese ashore.
Our lake is storybook. A storybook that is real. As real to us as deadlines, as commitments, as taxes, as ever present life, as eventual death. And so, we create intermission in our lives, a schedule-less time out to touch this realness and live the lake’s story. Summer after summer.
With those who matter most. Living what matters most.
Even on days not idyllic, not picture perfect. When storms threaten and drizzle lingers. Days whose dawns hold sticky grey-ness and a promise of hazy dullness ahead. Whose afternoons hold a harsh word for which we eventually ask forgiveness or offer forgiveness. On these days too, especially on these days, it is a place where eternity is glimpsed.
A place whose stories will be lived and relived in many times and in many places: Southward on Interstate 87 as we wind homeward on the Saturday bookending our week.
On a Tuesday evening two years from now after baseball practice, over a spicy chili and crusty Italian bread dinner.
Over our Thanksgiving table a half dozen years from now, pumpkin pie and simmering cider fragrances wafting throughout dining room.
Or Christmas Eve a decade from now, tree adorned and memory-laden ornaments, pulled from cushioned boxes, admired once again, as my boys settle into home after an autumn away at college.
During tuxedo fittings for one son’s upcoming nuptials, two decades in the future. One will be groom; one, best man.
And perhaps as their own children, the same ages they are now, trick or treat together, flit around playgrounds together; perhaps even swim to our island or cast fishing lines together. On the lake. Our lake.
For we’ve found that our lake is the closest place to Heaven there is on Earth.