A Summer Escape by Jeanie Croope

It’s a quiet Monday morning at the cottage. The lake is draped with a haze of fog, the opposite shoreline barely visible, like a pencil drawing that had been badly erased and only a light shadow remains. The lake is still and gray, barely a ripple. Islands of foam rest without moving on its surface, like globs of whipped cream floating in a sink of dirty water.

The monochromatic palette is broken only by the brilliantly colored water floats tied to the neighbor’s dock. A bright pink flamingo, a yellow trampoline, a goldenrod inner tube, a floating island with a green palm tree protruding from the top. Their cheerful colors signal the lively activity of the day ahead.

The weekenders have returned home to their regular routine of work, appointments and obligations and it is quiet, oh so quiet. Only the well modulated voices of dulcet radio anchors on “Morning Edition” and the sound of the neighbor’s lawn sprinklers break the stillness.

Why, oh why, do people have lawns at the lake? This is where we come to escape the routines of the city and the suburbs. Mowing lawns. Street traffic. A faster pace.

On our morning walks we might encounter Mr. Bird and his dog, Snoopy; Karen and Lou, with their dazzling garden; Penny and John, who are laying in their own driveway; Steve, who is married to the Little Free Library lady; Paul, the painter, who has a smoker and who, if we are lucky, may offer a taste of delicious smoked meat; Josh and his dad, with Josh’s kids packed into a double-stroller and their blond German shepherd by their side.

We greet each other with a smile, maybe a bit of chat, swatting away a mosquito or two if the day is damp or humid. We note the flower pots with black eyed Susans in an otherwise neat little garden, tipped over the day before in the breeze, are now planted, straight and tall.

The occasional red-tipped leaf is a sign of days to come.

Our minds relax.

The solo walker will perhaps dream up plots for stories that may or may not be written or notice the way light hits a cluster of leaves, trying to determine how to capture that light in paint. Those traveling in the company of others will notice all about them as well, pointing out bunnies or birds, or simply share a morning conversation.

A car may go by, carrying its driver into town, perhaps for a day job, perhaps for groceries or a trip to a breakfast restaurant. They slow as they approach, giving the walkers plenty of room and all parties wave as they pass by. It’s part of the unwritten etiquette code.

And yes, there are different types of waves.

The open-handed royal wave, the windshield wiper wave and the wiggling finger wave. The two-handed steering wheel wave finds the driver wiggling the fingers on both hands as it holds the steering wheel at “ten” and “two,” the official drivers education position.

There is the open window arm-out wave and it’s not so pleasant cousin, the cigarette-out-the-open-window wave, leaving behind an after-fragrance of dubious quality.

Back on the porch, the radio has moved from news to classical. The black-and-white cat sits on the cushion of a faux-wicker chair, alternating naps with a careful perusal of the beach as she awaits the passage of a bird or chipmunk.

Yesterday’s swimsuits and towels hang from nails on the porch beams, drying out for today’s swim. A potted sunflower sits on the table, herb gardens and small begonia pots seem to thrive.

The lake is still clam, the white foam seemingly barely moving in the almost-non-existent current.

A long boat passes by and the fog, if one looks straight out, is moving gently to the north, like slow-moving smoke. Yes, it’s still there, that fog, but lifting now, the trees on the opposite side more visible than a half hour before.

In another hour the sun will break through the clouds and bring with it the warmth of another summer’s day.

There will be the sounds of more boats, a barking dog, perhaps the laughter of children or adults, enjoying the water.

A lone swimmer will stroke in the deep water along the shoreline, from one buoy to another, counting strokes and attempting to do more than the day before. And more than one fisherman will slowly move their boats boat down the lake, hoping for “the big one” and more likely later telling stories of the one that got away.

And, in due course, the sun will sink slowly beyond the horizon, leaving streaks of orange, pink and gold on the surface of the lake.

The sky will move to inky blue, then black and stars will emerge, perhaps the moon. The lake will again be calm, the stillness after a day of play will set in as it does for us. Time for rest.

There will be tomorrow in our little heaven on earth. And we will treasure it as much as today.

About the Author: Jeanie Croope

Jeanie Croope bioAfter a long career in public broadcasting, Jeanie Croope is now doing all the things she loves — art, photography, writing, cooking, reading wonderful books and discovering a multitude of new creative passions. You can find her blogging about life and all the things she loves at The Marmelade Gypsy.

39 Replies to “A Summer Escape by Jeanie Croope”

  1. I sure do love that pink flamingo – guess we need to get some colors for the coming months!
    Mr Bird looks very cute, the eye, great shot.
    Hmmmm, a smoker, yum.
    You made me smile with the wave and smile even more with “an after-fragrance of dubious quality” 🙂
    Can´t wait to swim again (just not here in Germany, way too cold, brrr).
    Yes. I do treasure every summer day indeed.
    This was a great read, thank you!

    1. Thank you, Iris. Yes, the coming months will be pretty monochromatic. It will be nice to think back on the pink flamingo! Thank you for the nice words — I’m glad you enjoyed!

  2. We live in so many tenses but we often forget the present tense. Our grammatical living skills need to be honed, don’t they! Live NOW and enjoy it.

    1. Thanks, Rita! Yes, there are “wave” categories — but the important thing is that all the people wave!

  3. This is so beautifully written, Jeanie. I visited your slice of heaven a couple of times, staying at David and Bonnie’s cottage, and through your writing, I was right there again. The sounds, the sights, the smells…as real as being there. Thank you for a most special treat during what has been a very tough time in my life. You lifted me up some, and for that, I am most grateful.

    1. Jim, Bonnie has shared with me the recent tragedy in your family and I am so deeply sorry. I’m glad that in some little way these words could provide a bit of a lift for you. Anything that gives even a brief respite is a gift and I’m glad that I could provide that for you. Sending healing wishes to you and all your family.

  4. So well written, Jeanie! I’m usually a bit sad this time of year, but it’s also a good time to visit the lake when others are in their routine of school and work. I enjoyed seeing your lake neighborhood through your eyes!

    1. Yes, I know what you mean about sad at this time of year. I came home after closing up today… I always hate to leave. Thanks for coming by!

  5. Jeanie – this is my first time joining you at this blog – and I am sure glad I did. I love your attention to those small details – like the differences in the waves from cars – made me giggle and nod. I look forward to reading more of your material, and thanks for your recent visit to my blog.

    1. Thanks for joining us at Modern Creative Life and all the nice words on the post. You’ll find posts by many here by a number of writers and poets. Every few months, the theme changes a bit. I hope you’ll check it out often!

  6. Lovely! And bittersweet — a last look back before closing the cottage for the season. While there’s a wonderful rhythm to life in a four seasons climate, it’s still sad to say “goodbye” to such a glorious summer at the lake! I’ve loved seeing all your pictures and posts this season!

    1. Thank you so much, Kathy. Yes, I know what you mean about that rhythm of life and bidding farewell to a favorite season. (I confess, I don’t have the same reverie when saying farewell to winter!)

  7. Jeanie, that first paragraph is stunning. Seen through the lens of an artist’s eye, you paint unforgettable word pictures. The escape you painted for us is one in which the reader also finds refreshment.

  8. Well this was a lovely read on this overcast and cloudy Wednesday morning. You sure have a way with words and I can picture your little slice of heaven – even without the beautiful pictures you included! I’m so glad you have this beautiful place to escape to each summer!

    That sunset photo is my absolute favorite!!!

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