When I was growing up my parents purchased a small cottage on a lake about
ten miles from our home. Originally it had just been a bedroom with a
kitchen wrapped around it and a bathroom on one end. It had two large
windows facing the water and my parents added a porch in front of the windows.
During the summer months we would sometimes live in our little cottage. It
didn’t have a bathtub or shower so we would all gather down by the water
with a bar of soap. The sand went out a ways and there was a small pier at
one end of the property line. And so the limits of our bathing area were
Early morning was the time for this ritual. And then we would walk up the
hill and through the trees for breakfast. It was my three younger sisters
and my parents sitting around a large round oak table that I remember. It
was located on the porch and it had wheels.
Next to it was my portable bed. And the windows between the porch and the
kitchen were permanently open. So the smells of eggs and bacon cooking
floated through the porch on their way out the large screened windows and
down to the lake.
There were no curtains on the porch and it was flooded with light at
daybreak. And then the squirrels would start running around on the roof.
There was little chance that I could sleep under such circumstances
but it didn’t matter.
Because the lake was a mirror in the early morning hours. And the fish
could be seen under the end of the pier. I would stumble out of bed and
arrive with my fishing pole beyond the shore and in the middle of a
glistening surface full of mystery.
I would fish for awhile caught up in my own thoughts and the excitement of a
catch. And then I would hear the sounds of my family as they awakened from
the various corners where they slept and headed down to the lake for a bath.
The combination of noise, splashing and Ivory soap did not do much for the
fishing so I would dive off the end of the pier and join them. Then we
would troop up the hill and have breakfast.
And then the magic would end. Motor boats would begin running up and down
the lake. Often they would have skiers behind them slapping the waves. The
sun would rise in the sky and we would retreat under the trees to avoid its
hot rays. And the glassy lake would become choppy with the wind and the
wakes from the boats.
I would retreat into a book. My father built a small platform on 2 X 4’s in
about eight feet of water. My contribution was to paint faces on rocks and
somehow lug them out there. He came in from a swim one day laughing about
the strange faces he found staring up at him while he dove off the platform.
My father worked at a General Motors Plant in a nearby town. He started out
working on the assembly line and rose to a prominent position just under the
plant manager as the years passed. I don’t think he ever understood his
Eventually all the children grew up and the summer cottage was sold. Someone
bought it and encased it with another layer of rooms top and bottom. It’s
huge now and you don’t have to go down to the lake to take a bath.
My mother enjoyed a few years of peace and quiet on Cape Cod before cancer
took her away at a relatively early age. My father still lives there
although he sold their home and bought another one. He added new shingles
himself in his late 70’s applying them one or two dozen at a time on nice
My sisters are scattered around the country with their families. We hardly
ever communicate. Perhaps I have not done my part in this regard.
And I live in Virginia with my wife Beth. I spend a great deal of time at
the computer writing, pasting my photos or trying to figure
out how various plugins work.
And somewhere in central Massachusetts there is a lake that shines like a
mirror as dawn sends a shiver through its depths. It holds too many
There are rocks on the bottom that could tell. But their mouths are shut
and their eyes are blind. Mud has covered their faces and they will sleep
until the dirt is delicately scraped off by an archeologist fifty thousand years
He will ponder what strange tribe worshiped rocks in the middle
of a desert. And somewhere far away a little boy will hear his thought and whisper . . .
“Don’t think too much about it. It’s just a child with a can of paint
and a brush. You have been out in the sun too long. Why don’t you take a
nap and dream a little ?”