I pass the shore of a nearby lake on the way home from town. Today, for some reason, the lake caught my attention and I was thrown back into the years when we lived on lakes. First was on a settled lake near town where I taught school and Dick was an engineer in the city. Then we bought a resort in northern Minnesota and finished raising our kids there on the shore of a remote wilderness lake.
Both places, we measured our lives according to the seasons as they manifest on lakes.
Freeze-up means winter has arrived but don’t go on the ice until it’s at least 6 inches thick. Spring is heralded by thawing, first along the edge and then usually, during one windy day, the ice comes off the lake. Sometimes it comes onto our yard. One year it came close to taking our house away but stopped yards short of the back porch. Summer is warm water time: boating, fishing, water-skiing, lazing on the beach and raking and hauling the weeds that drift onto the shore. Autumn is cold water, storms, wind and high waves but the best fishing of the year, not to mention duck hunting and harvesting wild rice. And all year around, the sun shines on the water and reflects all its moods and we somehow take those emotions into ourselves until they become part of us.
That’s what living on a lake is like.
It’s been years since I lived on a lake and set my inner clock according to the rhythms of the seasons and the water but for some unknown reason, as I drove past that small lake today and around a small cove filled with lily pads and dark water, it all came back and I opened the car window the better to breathe in that indefinable smell that is only found on the shore of a northern lake. And I smiled. And smiled. And smiled.