Saturday, September 26, 2009

A Warm Chill

Our friend Lynn bought a cabin in Maine a few years ago, and with great grace and generosity, she has mentioned to us a number of times that we can make use of it.

So, this weekend, we finally did. I’ve split the trip into three posts, so this first just deals with that first glorious morning when we woke up lakeside.

Lynn’s cabin is on Highland Lake, three miles away from the lake I spent a dozen summers at as a kid and as a young man. For me, a return to a Maine lake has a special significance, a weight of memory so vast that the air has a cool molasses quality, as if everything is slowed just a little. It gives a bright razor clarity to the smooth stones at the lake’s bottom and a sweetness to the dust of dry pine needles.

The dogs, of course, don’t indulge in this kind of nostalgic savoring of each slow detail. As I stood on the lakeshore in the cool air and the warm sun of the early day, they made whitewater and furfire out of the stillness and the yellow morning light.

I have learned to savor the slow creak of joints and the fog that follows me for the first few minutes of a precious day, when there’s no work to be done, no traffic to beat to the highway, no counting of quarters for the cup of cheap coffee that chases off the fog.

Instead, I stood on a lakeshore for an hour in the Maine fall and let air that was just a bit too cold for comfort blow through my bedhead and carry off that sleepy fog. I was jealous for a moment that the dogs could splash into a Maine lake as I have loved to do so many times, and I even considered jumping in myself for more than a moment.

It was enough, though, to watch them, to be chilled by the air and thawed by the sun, cooled by the water they splashed as they ran by, but warmed always by the sight of so much joy.

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