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
After 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.