The Lady of Our Lake

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Lake, Truck, Cathedral

Lake Winnipesaukee was a few miles down the road from where I grew up. Whenever we went to Laconia we would drive along and then cross the lake.  As a child I spent an awful lot of time watching the lake pass by from my backseat window.  We swam, water-skied and boated on it in the summer; then we skated, fished and played hockey on it all winter.  We took pictures of Lake Winnipesaukee all year-long, but most dramatically in the fall, of course.  When the patchwork of color reflects back from the mirrored lake it’s exhilarating to see.  Just thinking about it makes me want some hot apple cider with a cinnamon stick in it.  I want to put some fluffy socks and a sweater on then curl up on the couch with a good book, but it‘s 90 degrees out and the humidity here in Georgia is about 83% today.

When I drive down the country road to my South Georgia plot of land, I see the ditches on the side of the road.  They are full of water after a good rain (depending on how much we’ve had some of these ditches can almost be deep enough to swim in).  The surface ripples gently in the breeze and the dark waters reflect the trees and sky.  These things make me more homesick for the lakes back home than anything I’ve ever come across.  Those ripples and reflections remind me so strongly of Lake Winnipesaukee.  The memories of growing up near the lake are lovely to bring out and dust off, now that I’m so far away and so much older.  Jumping off the trestle in Lochmere, boating to the Burger King in Laconia, or walking up and down the boardwalk at Funspot in Weirs Beach playing games and eating cotton candy.  I remember with much fondness the delicious ice cream sundaes you can make at Kellerhaus right up the road, and the incredible hand painted dolls they designed at the Annalee Doll Factory in Meredith. I still have a few of those.

In the spring the lake is fresh and dark after the ice melts, sweet waters reflecting the many greens of new growth all along her banks.  The lake is still icy cold.  Not quite awake, she soaks up the sun joyously and warms her waters bit by bit.  In the summer the lake is alive.  Living and breathing, alive.  Boaters motor across, swimmers jump off docks and the girls are kissed by the sun as they giggle and sit in their lawn chairs.  The boys gather around pickup trucks at country stores and snap their wet t-shirts at each other.  Fish are caught, races are won and dripping towels swing from tree branches and porches (and lay in puddles on the floor sometimes too).  By summer the lake is lined with leaves and flowers, healthy and lush and soft.  A breeze flows off of the lake to cool all but the hottest of summer nights, a gift given and thoroughly enjoyed.

Some days you wake and it’s raining.   When reflecting the clouds, her waters are steel grey and when it’s windy – whitecaps snap furiously for as far as the eye can see!  A slow summer rain is a lovely thing.   Gentle, steady and sad somehow, she bows her head and lets her tears fall softly.  Misty mornings are a silky veil around her head and shoulders, covering her face and showing her eyes, only a glimpse now and again of more.  A lady should have some mystery around her, tasteful and full of possibilities.

Sun showers are pure exhilaration – the best showmanship.  The storm clouds in the background are and blue, purple and gray, boiling in the sky.  The sun shines yellow in the foreground and the newly washed trees and flowers sweetly sing out their color!  These rains are short and always bring a smile to my face. The rainbow afterward is the perfect backdrop, and at the end of each one?  A child!  The age-old sport of puddle jumping.  There’s nothing like the smile and squeal of a baby playing in a puddle.  The bigger the puddle the better too, sticks and mud pies are optional.  How much closer to heaven (on earth) could we be?

No matter the time of year or her mood, the Winnipesaukee is always a lady.  In the winter she is sedate and if possible even lovelier than at any other time of the year.  The wind eddies, swirling the snow into delicate filigree.  I always picture a January lady of the lake in her frosted hat and mittens, covered in a floor length white coat.  She wears a crown of snowflakes and her hair swirls around my face, tickling my cold nose and ears.  The lake in a snowfall becomes an outdoor cathedral.  Dark evergreens line the shores, stately and silent.  They are blanketed in snow and somehow hold the heart of her.  Reverent and ethereal, such beauty is exquisite and what we’ve been given here is perfect beauty.  We have only to get out there and see.  The Lady awaits.

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