Sunrise at the Lake


We are spending the weekend at a friend’s lake cabin. It’s not an isolated cabin; lakeshore is too precious to allow that kind of space. My favorite time to be here is any time but summer, when there is constant noise from boats and people. Even now, just two weeks after Labor Day, it is mostly silent and peaceful, only rarely disturbed by the roaring of a motorboat.

The sun rose in a pink-orange glow above gently rippling water this morning. Loons called in the distance, crows nearby. It was a time to just absorb beauty, to simply be.  Lake sunrise is one of my favorite meditations.

There are many activities in the surrounding area. We all agreed that we just wanted to experience the cabin, not to use it as a point from which to go to other places. The cabin is the destination.

I spent most of Saturday reading, appropriately, A Place in the Woods by Helen Hoover, a memoir of the early years that she and her husband lived in far northern Minnesota.  They endured a ramshackle cabin, flood and fire, and welcome and unwelcome visits from wildlife. I’ve always had the fantasy of living in the country, away from the hubbub of modern life.   At this time for my family, our suburban home is a reasonable compromise; we have good schools, convenient access to everything, and a good amount of quiet as well. Quiet is key for me, and was a primary selection criteria for our house. Acres of surrounding wetlands means that the undeveloped spaces around us will remain that way, and we regularly see and hear wildlife of many species.

I work in the city, and I try to put myself in a vacation mindset during the commute home. I exit the highway early, to drive past lakes and trees, even if it takes a little longer. Summer off from work relieved some tension that I didn’t know I was experiencing until I returned to the city. I know that many people love living in a vibrant metropolis, but I also know that it is not for me.

As I have written, I think of our house in the much-disparaged suburbs as our cabin. At home, I putter in my garden, read with a cat on my lap, fill the house with the aroma of baking bread. So why does this weekend escape feel so necessary? The return of my work and Mari’s school routines, coupled with a critical deadline in Thom’s work, my insomnia, and a few unusual circumstances, made this week unusually stressful. We could have decompressed at home, but the prospect of a complete escape brightened our moods all week.

So, as we clean the cabin this morning – a couple of hours that could have been used for the housecleaning that will still be necessary when we get home – and drive for 3 hours, I will ask Thom and Mari about this. What was the best part of the weekend? Could we have done that at home?

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