Thursday, July 05, 2012

Three days and three nights at the lake


This lake camp has been in our family since the 1950s. My great uncle Phil built it for himself and his wife Celia. They spent their summers here until well into their 70s.

I loved visiting them at the lake. I remember my Aunt Cele teaching me to dive, standing on the dock wearing her one-piece swimsuit, the kind where the leg holes are cut well below the hip, and a bathing cap. I can still remember the sound of her voice calling to us up the long slate staircase when we arrived in the car.

I used to imagine Uncle Phil was a Native American. He had weathered skin and a hawk nose and intense eyes. He was a story teller. His favorite story was about how he once skipped a stone so far it broke the window of a camp on the far shore.

I rode across the lake with him in the putt putt motorboat, filled with plastic milk jugs, to get fresh water from a spring on the other side.

When Cele and Phil got too old to continue living at the lake, they talked about selling it. My father, eager to keep it in the family, offered to buy it.  Uncle Phil suggested he pay $40,000. "I don't accept your offer, " said my dad, " how about $45,000?"

We don't spend half enough time here. I'm not sure why.  It's just 25 minutes from our house. We usually come, have a swim, maybe a picnic meal, then go home-- claiming we miss our toothbrushes and nightgowns and vitamins. All those things we could honestly live without.

But since returning from France, and possibly since my children have gotten old enough to navigate the precipitous rocky shores and lake bottom and not need 100 percent supervision 24/7, I have rediscovered the infinite treasures  of this, my childhood haunt.





One of my favorite views.












And every time we wake up to another blindingly bright morning bounced off a mirror of delicious water, straight into our sleepy eyes, I wonder why on earth we don't spend every waking day of the summer here.



 So when I realized I was faced with a predicted string of hot days and remarkably few social or extracurricular obligations without a car, we're operating on one car these days, I packed up as much food as I could find, some spare clothes, bathing suits, towels, sunscreen, a few books and some drawing pads, the dog and the miracle guinea pig, and instructed Ian to drive us to the lake last Sunday night and leave us there. So he did.


 Esther's cousin, Celia, guess where she got her name, was with us for the first night.

 Then it was just the three of us girls, our books, the water, and the pets.





Then, on the eve of the Fourth, Ian came to join us. We stayed a total of three nights and three days. During that time, my children never once put on their shoes or took a bath, or asked to watch TV or whined about being bored. They had only nature, a few water toys, and their own minds to entertain them. Their imaginations were so fully ignited, I could practically see sparks coming out their ears.

And it took me an entire morning to learn how to relax with Isla screaming about the imaginary sea monster that took the shape of her sister.

There was moonlight skinny dipping, swimming in the pouring rain, King of the float and King of Henry contests (Henry is a large and affectionately named rock who waits patiently for kids to stand on him. He gets slippery when he is lonely.)m lots and lots of quiet side-by-side reading, and an absurd amount of eating. I brought along a new jar of peanut butter, thinking it would last a week, and it was empty by the end of the first day.




21 comments:

Kate D said...

Cele and Phil would be so happy and proud to see you all enjoying the lake as much as they did. Glad you all were able to relax and kick back a bit. You deserve it!

AdrianneP said...

I would agree on your favorite view. It was very nice : ) My question is, how do you keep your hands to yourself?! : )

Adrianne

Kathleen Trail said...

That is magical. Thank you for sharing it with us!

Betsy said...

Very good question, AdrianneP. I can't and I don't. Poor man.

mooserbeans said...

You are very lucky! Such a beautiful place to go and escape.

beersincannes said...

You are so so so lucky! I am currently living in France (in the Cannes area) and have really enjoyed reading about your transition back to the States. I am eager to go back as well, but am trying to enjoy every minute here while I can. You should be at the lake more - I seriously would if it was only 20 minutes from my house! And a boat? To die for!

Anonymous said...

Wunderschoen, Betsy!
Antje

Sue Kol said...

sigh! beautiful!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I have often dreamed of owning a lake side retreat. Have had a couple of friends that did and were gracious enough to share them with me. Your pictures made me feel as though I was there.

JenDavey71 said...

Looks like Heaven on Earth.

Seamingly Sarah said...

yeah! and double yeah for the skinny dipping! i look forward to days like this on the water. with the 4 and 1 year old i feel like i'm constantly watching out for near death incidents. i really do look forward to older and more capable children around the water some summer day, far, far away.

Anna said...

what a nice summer post, Betsy. So glad you are all back together again. Re having one car - My mother's eyesight is so bad that she had to stop driving recently. We are trying to sell her car. It is a RAV4 Toyota in excellent condition inside and out. Made around 1998. 80 thousand with at least 100 thou to go on it. Blue book is 7000 but we'd sell it for 5. We have it here if you want to come take it for a spin!

Robin said...

I second Seamingly Sarah on the skinny dipping. Man, I haven't done that in years and years and years. Sigh.

Liliana Holtzman said...

So beautiful - a perfect place to spend hot summer days.
My family and I were at our cottage on Lake Michigan last week. It was unbearably hot, but the lake made everything wonderful.

Betsy said...

Thanks, Anna. Food for thought. We were hoping, since we already have a Volvo wagon, to find something tiny and fuel efficient. But Ian is pondering......

Anna said...

We thought we had a serious buyer - someone in our family, but they backed out. My mother really wants to get it sold, so we'd be willing to go down in price just to avoid the hassle of having to now deal with finding a new buyer. It's really one of those great deals - an 'old lady's car' that has been serviced regularly, etc etc. If you want to come over and try it, no hard feelings if you don't want it. Could go down to 4500.! It's not super fuel efficient like a Prius, but it isn't a gas guzzler either. I can find out how many miles per gallon it does.

Bek said...

Oh my, oh my. If I had that 25 minutes from my house, my husband would never see us unless he came out. What a treasure!

Also, all these posts are making me giddy. We spent summers growing up in the ADK, but now we're in the Bluegrass. We're heading to VT for a family reunion soon and your pictures have me in a tizzy of excitement!

Betsy said...

Your tizzy is perfectly timed. It's more beautiful and green and ridiculously scenic in every direction than I ever remember it being before. Absence makes the heart grow fonder...

Emma said...

wow, Betsy, you are so, so lucky to have that lovely holiday house. I am green with envy. I have such precious memories of summer holidays at the beach when i was growing up. My parents rented the same house every year for 2 weeks after christmas and we counted down the days until we got there. Sadly the family who owned it sold it so we had to stop going there once i was at university. I had always thought i would take my kids somewhere like that, but sadly finances haven't permitted.

KA said...

" old enough to navigate the precipitous rocky shores and lake bottom and not need 100 percent supervision 24/7" Amen!

Makes all the difference in the world!

Why not leave supplies there? Towels and toothbrushes and clean undies? Everything else is of course optional.

Wonderful picture essay. Love the night shots especially.

Megan said...

This is pure heaven!