I've run away from home to home. It's summer and it's lake time.
Lake time. It can mean so many things -- those glorious months anticipated during the long winter. Time to sit on the beach with a good book, feeling the warmth of the sun and hearing the gentle lap of the waves. (And, more than I'd like, the rumble of the jet skis!). Time to take a walk on the quiet roads, surrounded by trees on one side and cottages on the other. Time to stop for a minute and chat with a neighbor or a stranger our walking his dog.
For me, it is also the absence of time, of schedule. At the lake one goes to bed when they are tired and rises when ready to greet the day. We eat when we are hungry. We drive into town if we need something or take a road trip is we feel like it.
About the only time the television is on is if it's a rainy evening when I can't be on the porch until the sun goes down and I can no longer see the words on the page without straining. (Or on Sunday night and PBS' British line-up!) I think I can remember how to hook up the VCR -- yes, videotapes. All the tapes I had once at home have moved north, the purgatory between no-longer-wanted-at-home and the yard sale, then the dump-or-donate zone. I suppose I could get a DVD player. I might. Or not.
I have a clock radio by my bed, the only reliable marker of time in the house. There's another clock, a battery-operated one, but it runs fast. Or slow. Which, I suppose, is fine for lake time. Besides, Lizzie keeps me posted on meal time.
For some reason, the absence of time gives us more time. Time to paint or go into town to sample all the best from the bounty at the farmers' market. We can jump in that cool, fresh water and swim until our arms no longer move. And then an hour later, jump in again.
At the lake, time only matters if you are headed to the movies (rare in the summertime) or if you've made a plan to meet someone someplace at a given moment. Apart from that, we judge days by the position of the sun in the sky. In the morning, the impossibly tall pines cast shadows on the back yard, streaking the scraggly grass with light. By one, it has moved over toward the lake side of the house and by two is beating brightly on the sand, warming it to happy feet. By five or six it has moved again, bathing the porch with light.
We watch the sky for signs of storms, intense ones being few and far between but a gentle rain always welcome -- once the sun has gone down! Every sunset seems unique though when I look at the photos later, so many seem the same. Still, that very moment is it's own and as the sky turns various shades of orange, pink, purple and gold, I hold the camera and wait for it to change, minute by minute.
It is a different kind of clock we live with in the summers at the lake.
Our circle narrows to those with whom we are in close contact. It may
be Rick or a visiting friend or a cousin coming in from down the road.
It might be a few words with the neighbor or the septic tank cleaners or
the tree trimmers. But most of the time any conversation is more or
less one-sided. I speak with Lizzie. She may or may not acknowledge me.
And that is fine.
Summer evenings are long. The July Fourth fireworks begin at 10:30 when the sky is finally an inky black. The light we turn on inside casts enough of a glow that we can still be on the porch, playing cards or Scrabble until it's time to brush teeth and crawl in to cool sheets.
If we're lucky and the lake isn't too still, we'll hear the waves gently lapping on the shore. It's a musical sound of sorts, a rhythmic lapping punctuated briefly by other instruments -- a burst of breeze through the pines, a far-off slamming of a door, a fishing boat putting slowly and quietly along the water.
In my city life, I'm aware of time almost every minute. Time for this appointment or that meeting or this television program or that lunch date.
I'm at the lake. It's a different clock. And oh, there is none better.
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