Last week I manifested my Lake House fantasy, courtesy of my good friends David and MaryKate and the Super Host Kevin through Air BnB. David and Marykate had made an exodus from LA for seven weeks, one stop of which was this beautiful lake house in Washington State, an hour or so north of Seattle. After FaceTiming with MK while they were at this house, seeing David over her shoulder in the background on a paddle board on the lake, I begged for the details and they provided them. I went to the site and miracle of miracles, was able to book four days at the end of June, right when I had taken vacation time.
So there I was, in the beautiful Pacific Northwest, overlooking the serenity of the lake on the many phases of a lake life – Monday morning, unrecognizable from the lake of late afternoon Sunday, punctuated by motorboats, pulling rafts of children, or satiated spouses along behind them, the wakes of their boats manifesting in the clatter of the dinghy against the dock. It was 109 degrees on Monday in the shank of the day, and in the course of my four day stay, I satisfied my heart’s desire to kayak, paddle board and frolic in a lake with my granddaughters for the first time. Check, check, check.
But more than anything, I welcomed the space. The quietude. The wide expanse of water, trees, sky. Respite from the pandemic, the hurly burly of the urban academic life.
Sunday night I sat on the deck, after cooling myself in the lake, and ate a bowl of pasta while doing some writing. I looked up to witness an active spider ballet happening amidst the patio lights. Spaced with the regularity of the lamps were three diligent spiders working to weave their webs, their inch long bodies silhouetted against the deep blue of the sky, their webs a masterful exercise in planning and fortitude.
Monday morning I arose to the gorgeous lake outside the bedroom windows, and I scampered like an eager child on Christmas morning to the kitchen to make my tea, realizing half way there that I’d neglected to get almond milk during my shopping trip the night before. A quick search showed that the closest grocery store was about 8 miles away, so I got myself together and took off. The drive, through curvy woodlands and meadows offset the inconvenience of not being prepared for my first cup of tea. I spent the day lakeside with my college friend and one time cross country traveler, Kate Winton. We migrated across the lawn in our chairs chasing the shade as we shared our life’s adventures (to date). She also showed me the ropes with paddle boarding, which was much easier than I’d thought it would be. Though nothing is as graceful at 61 as it is in your early twenties or even thirties.
Other riches of the week included an overnight visit from my son and his wife and my two granddaughters. Watching them growing up has been one of the unexpected delights of my mid life. Their squirming together like puppies on a barcalounger in the TV area or playing tag around the fire pit was adorable. At dinner time, Skylar set a children’s table where they ate together, standing up.
Parenting two children under six is an exercise in attention to detail: food intake, sleep, stimulation, exercise, equal parts affection and just rough housing, laughter, assuaging their unquenchable curiosity, reading, tv (but not too much). It’s a delicate and exhausting dance that Chris and his wife manage very well. Having gone solo several years ago, I am much less structured about when I want meals, and so it was surprising when he started fussing with the grill it seemed almost as soon as we’d finished lunch.
After dinner, we went for a spin in the dinghy, Chris, Skylar and I, as Birdie couldn’t be cajoled into the life vest. When we returned to the dock, though, she was ready to go, and so I stood on the lawn and sang the theme song from Gilligan’s Island as their family of four started off in the motorized dinghy to explore the lake: the third of such trips that evening. I love watching my son parent – he has much more patience than I did; when I articulate fears about what can go wrong, thereby planting them in the child’s head, he rolls his eyes and stifles an unbearable look of forbearance.
Though I headed back to “civilization” on Thursday, I hold in my heart those precious moments lakeside.