••• Monday, June 18, 2007

Happy as a Calm 

Night swimming
Deserves a quiet night
.- R.E.M.

Before my father died, when I was a kid, our annual summer vacation was two weeks of camping at a state park on an inland lake, in Northern Michigan. ::When your state is surrounded by Great Lakes, all other lakes are inland.:: My dad would leave for his morning fishing about 6 a.m., and return about noon.

After morning dishes, mom would take us to the grassy beach and eagle-eye us every second we were in the water. At noon, we returned to camp to eat lunch, and 30 minutes later were back at the beach, while daddy napped. About 3:00 p.m., purple-lipped and prune-fingered, we'd slog back to camp, where mom would commence with preparing dinner on the Coleman stove. ::Always a standard meal, with a meat and at least a canned veggie and sometimes potatoes.::

While we ate, a pot of water was on to boil on the Coleman, so after dinner mom could wash and rinse the Melmac and flatware ::Seldom did we use the paper plates, even camping.:: which had been transported to camp in a metal kitchen cabinet,left over from a kitchen remodel.

After dinner and dishes, my sister and I would usually run off to the playground.On a cool evening, there'd be a couple dozen kids playing softball or kick-the-can. On a warm evening, however, the playground would be a dusty dearth.

On a warm evening, everybody would be down at the beach, for a night swim. Everybody, that is, but us.

We never went for night swims.Dad wasn't really a hands-on kind of father,unless we needed immediate correction. And Mom claimed after-dinner as her time of rest, before having to get us ready for "cot." And who could blame her? Back then,camping was no picnic for moms.

Sounds carry differently at night than they do during the day. At night, the sounds of children swimming, to the ears of children not, is crisper and splashier than it is during the day. And definitely more cruel.

In adulthood, many times over, I have counted coup on the pain of being excluded from that twilight revelry, so long ago. When my son was young and I worked year round, I'd sometimes pack us a summer picnic supper and drive 50 minutes to Lake Michigan. There, we'd cool our toots on a nearly vacant beach, where just a couple hours earlier bodies were lined up, toe to towel.

The beach at night has a different feel. It's less urgent and more contemplative. People who go to the beach at night are not seeking the perfect tan or social opportunity. They're seeking the perfect calm and comfort of the perfect revenge on a marked disappointment of childhood.

Last night we took Cakers to a Lake Michigan beach,located in a very small town just a few miles from here. This beach is a favorite from when I vacationed up here with Cam, post-divorce.

While I didn't don a suit for this outing, ::I had good reason. Believe.:: I certainly enjoyed.

As did Cakers and a new, very synchronized friend.

The water was almost eerily calm, for Lake Michigan. And between the heat of the day, and cool lake water, a bit of a haze hung over the lake just off shore, giving this guy paddling around on a surf board, an ethereal, Egyptian look.

A bit later, a couple of teen girls paddled into view, and, unbeknownst to them, I'm sure, gave my zoom lens a bit of a performance.

Do you Hieroglyph?

Whatever the foreign body language they were using, it appeared to be effective. It wasn't long before Ancient Egyptian Boy paddled up.

Crying Sun
We've had incredible weather up here. The only rain we've seen in six days occured last night after we returned from the beach. And even then, the sun kept shining.

Eric's work is kicking off Wednesday, so we're heading back tomorrow evening. I think it's time. We've had 7 days of perfect weather. It's almost 90 degrees outside right now, and Cakers had to be cajoled to get her suit on and go outside. She wanted to stay in and play "school." I think she's lonely for some non-parental interaction and right now there are no school-age cottage dwellers in the 'hood.

Yesterday Cabana asked her for a little Playmate reprieve, so he could take a well-deserved nap. I interrupted her protest with a reminder that daddy deserves some quiet rest on Father's Day.

Her reply: It's actually Bother's Day, not Father's Day. ::Pause, with smile.:: So, Daddy, can you take me on a boat ride?

P.S. Please forgive spelling. I don't have Word reloaded on my computer yet, and the spell check on Blogger mucks up my margin settings, somehow.

P.P.S. I'm not sure how the photos will emerge, quality-wise. I had to shrink them smaller so Blogger could squeeze them through its tiny butthole, on upload. The quality I'm seeing is not great, but I'm on reduced quality dial-up.

Dang, you're making me homesick. I grew up on the other side of Lake Mich (near Door County WI) and I remember so well going to the beach on a hot summer evening. Of course the water was usually so cold that a 10-15 minute swim and we were blue and shivering. And loving every minute!
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