Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lakeside reflection

I spend the winter months praying for summer to come quickly. Spring is beautiful here, but it’s merely a pleasant stop on the way to a more satisfying destination. I watch the trees turn green, white blooms float to the pavement, and I start counting down the days until I can take that first dive into the waves only yards from my door.

As always I am impatient and before the chill has left the water completely, I’m running down those weathered planks at full speed, bracing myself for the shock.

Summer weekends begin and end in the water. Before the sleep can be rubbed from our eyes, Hannah and I are shoveling down breakfast and tugging on swimsuits. She gets coated with sunscreen, dancing impatiently from foot to foot, chattering about jumping off the tall platform.

“I can do it all by myself, mom. I can swim without a lifejacket too! Please, can I?”

From the moment she steps outside, she turns as dark as an Indian. It’s in her blood, in fact. Dark brown eyes, brown hair and brown skin with just a hint of her white bottom peeking from the edges of her swimsuit – the opposite of her naturally fair mother, who has to work extra hard to become nothing more than golden and still burns her nose every other weekend.

Appearances notwithstanding, she’s a summer child just like I was – pouting as the sunset signals it’s time to go home and marching, red eyed and exhausted, up the hill with water dripping from her hair, wet feet squeaking loudly in rubber flip-flops. Stomping up the back stairs and onto the porch, she strips down and hangs her suit over the tall chair, our towels immediately following. Then, with a sudden burst of energy she runs into the house, the white parts of her skin glowing like another swimsuit and, giggling, announces to the household that she’s naked.

After bath and dinner, bed time comes quickly. She’s asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow and, though I no longer run bare assed and giggling through the kitchen (at least when people are home), I copy her night routine down to the open mouthed breathing. The sun can be draining, no matter your age.

And we do it all again the next day.

Instead of doing cannon ball after cannon ball and bouncing up and down on a tube full of other children, I spend as much time as possible floating on a lounger. But now I’m the voice that controls the mayhem rather than the one behind it. Chasing down reluctant children to apply more sunscreen, diving in to rescue this or that float, shooing away the stupid goose, toting coolers and arranging towels, docking boats and giving Jet Ski rides – that’s what I traded (most of) my cannon balls for. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

All grown up, my family and friends surround me like aptly placed buoys, clutching cold beers in colorful koozies. Their children run with mine and we laugh, reminded of old feuds and excitements that are being played out all over again, right before our eyes.

I’ve spent every summer since the age of two on this lake, in this little cove. It’s where I learned to swim, with an old fashioned belt around my waist. It’s where I held my first sparkler on the Fourth of July and where I nearly drowned learning to ski. It’s where I lost my best friend in the world and where I sat and cried every evening, watching the waves wash up on shore, until I found the courage to keep going without him. It’s where I celebrated every single birthday until the age of 16, when I became too cool to have parties.

I’m happy that I get to watch Hannah grow up walking the same banks, making similar but new memories with her generation of our family. I’m happy every time we’re gathered around the gazebo with our Papa, watching him smile and pick on her the way he’s always done, with every grandchild. I feel lucky that I have a place that’s so special to me and I hope that, twenty years from now, she’ll be looking back, just like this, and feeling lucky too.

30 comments:

Kimmie said...

Love this. :) I've missed you on my blog roll.

Danger Boy said...

Oh, how I long for Lake:30 on my clock. This didn't help. Fortunately, I'm lake-bound this weekend, so it didn't hinder either.
Lovely to see your words again.

Sharon Longworth said...

Glorious writing. I'm so glad that you not only experience all this, but that you share your luck so beautifully with the rest of us - thank you.

Philip said...

That's lovely. Hello. It's great to have you back, how the hell are you?

JUST ME said...

There is so much beauty with summer. These sorts of stories attest to it. So glad you're back.

Also - my earliest memory of swimming at my old neighborhood lake is of my brother marching out of the water, horrified, pointing to a leech on his foot.

Gross. Yet, strangely, nostalgic.

Happy Frog and I said...

It's always really good to see a post from you. I'll never have the moment you have written about so beautifully, so it was really special to be able to read about it here.

Nicole said...

Wonderful. And so like my childhood. I still think there is no naked more lovely than fresh-out-of-a-wet-swimsuit naked.

Shopgirl said...

Simply gorgeous.

Mollie said...

Any ducks? No, srsly, I had the same experience, only it was with pools and White Water Bay...surely you've heard of White Water Bay? No? Oh.

Robbie Grey said...

This reminded me of a particular lake and a particular river from back when I lived in North Carolina. Nicely done.

Roaring housewife said...

That was a beautiful post. It left me with tears in my eyes.

Mr London Street said...

This is a gorgeous pastoral piece. Just like the days you describe so brilliantly, when I got to the end I just wanted to go back to the beginning and start again. You don't write about Hannah very often, but when you do there is a glow to your writing which is just beautiful.

Lady Jennie said...

I loved this. It created such a picturesque scene.

Meowlissa said...

Great to see you back :) Loved this as always!

BugginWord said...

Such a great visual with the white booty! Also? I can't wait to get back to my lake next week. I'll think of you while I sparkle.

Mrs. C said...

Great to read you again, darlin'.

Judearoo said...

Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous.

This makes me nostalgic for somewhere I've never seen.

Eric said...

These things you call lakes, they remind me of a water park that I went to as a kid.

Penny Dreadful said...

Lovely :)

Laurnie said...

So glad to see you again! This post was lovely, it makes me wish I was young again

Bth said...

I do get excited when I see there's a post of yours I've still to read... :)

My little brother always used to run around with a white bottom too. So this did make me smile.
Loved reading about where you live. Beautiful reflections.

Whirlochre said...

I can't wait for the day my son uncovers the trunk of my old 18something clothes in the attic and resolutely refuses to try them on before mocking me till the day I die.

Balanced Idjit said...

I love this post, except now I'm horribly envious and I want to move to a lakeside home.

The Vegetable Assassin said...

I think some law needs to be passed that says it has to be summer all the time and life has to slow down. I'd sign up for that FOR SURE. Now I'm longing for August when I can get some time on the lake on my floaty chairs! :)

Kayla said...

This is amazing writing. It makes me love summer even more than I do now.

Southern Girl said...

I'm from Greenville SC, but living in London UK right now. London summer is pretty non-existent in my eyes, although all the Brits keep telling me it just hasn't started yet! This post reminded me so much of my summers spent on Lake Hartwell! Oh how I long to be home!

I love your posts! Hope to see more of them soon! :)

Rusty Hoe said...

I love this post in so many ways. I must admit I envy your connection to family and place, and I love that you allow us to share. There's also an extra something in there when you write about Hannah that gets me every time. A really beautiful piece that I will read again and again.

Crosby Kenyon said...

Very nice.

T. Roger Thomas said...

Very well said

The Tame Lion said...

You're back! Cool!
I missed you.