Sunday, September 5, 2010

Once More to the Lake


One summer, along about 1904, my father rented a camp on a lake in Maine and took us all there for the month of August. We all got ringworm from some kittens and had to rub Pond's Extract on our arms and legs night and morning, and my father rolled over in a canoe with all his clothes on; but outside of that the vacation was a success and from then on none of us ever thought there was any place in the world like that lake in Maine. We returned summer after summer--always on August 1st for one month. I have since become a salt-water man, but sometimes in summer there are days when the restlessness of the tides and the fearful cold of the sea water and the incessant wind which blows across the afternoon and into the evening make me wish for the placidity of a lake in the woods. 

~E.B. White, "Once More to the Lake," 1941

Much has changed in Maine since E.B. White wrote his beautiful essay about returning with his son to the lake of his own childhood.  The road to many weekend escapes is now lined by strip malls packed with Wendy's and Pizza Huts; most cottages come equipped with wi-fi access and cable TV; and the calm of the lake is disturbed by the incessant buzz of jet skis.  

However, if you rise early enough and glide out onto the lake in your canoe, you can be the first one on the water.  You can paddle in the cradle of the lake with the sun rising on one side and the moon sinking on the other.   

And in the afternoon, there are still porch rockers for lounging and porch beds for naps.


And, of course, there are docks for leaping.


I can think of no better place for a birthday . . .


or a campfire . . .


or a morning sleep-in.


This past week I took a series of portraits of my family on this very dock using this very pink bentwood chair as a prop.  Something about the chair all by itself spoke to me, too.  What a place to sit and listen for the loons at sunset or watch for the bald eagle who lives nearby.  Here a body can forget the rumble and rush of the world and settle into a quiet rhythm all its own.

32 comments:

  1. Your birthday? If so, happy happy! You and Huckleberry Finn are now morphing into one in my mind under the influence of your evocative words.

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  2. This looks lovely... we have been beachy vacay kinda people but I love a lake! Especially an unspoilt one.

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  3. Your description of the lake is perfection. Oh, to spend a month by it! And sitting on that chair in the early morning or sunset sounds like heaven! Happy Sunday wonderful Gigi! xxoo :)

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  4. No, not my birthday, Mise. My mum's. It was a a really nice one, too. It's funny that you mentioned Huck Finn. I think about him a lot.

    I'm a beachy girl, too, McGillicutty, but like you said, the lake now and then is a treat!

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  5. Happy Sunday to you, too, Cathi!

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  6. Lovely pictures of a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. that is the perfect place for family portraits

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  8. I want to hold this day in my heart forever. I was a lake girl for my first 25 years of life. How special it was to have my 72nd birthday on a lakeagain, with most of my loved ones. It was special and perfect!

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  9. Thanks, Janie and Kamana!

    Mum, it was a perfect weekend, wasn't it?! So glad that we could do it. xo

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  10. so beautiful and reminiscent. in high school i spent a week at a maine cottage and swam in the lake during a hurricane. (this week on cape cod our predicated hurricane petered out before it hit us.) seeing these photos takes me back.... love everything about it.

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  11. What a peaceful place...I am so glad I found it. This summer I drove to Maine and back to GA, twice. Your post took me back again. Best, Vicki

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  12. Oh how very dreamy! Beautiful pics. Glad you experienced such a wonderful escape.

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  13. The best of both worlds is to live by the beach and to have a lake to vacation at:) This lake getaway looks like heaven on earth...

    That essay by EBWhite is a favorite of mine...the only essay that I ever thought to save and print:)
    xo

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  14. Once upon a long time ago we had summers like that! I had almost forgotten how beautiful they could be!

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  15. As a child I was also a salt-water girl but this summer I discovered the joys of fresh water lakes with their calm, warm water and no stinging of undiscovered cuts and sores as you walk into the salty waves. Wonderful essay and lovely, dreamy pics.

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  16. What an idyllic place Gigi ( even though there are the additions of modern technology and gadgets !!) .... and how lovely for your Mum to spend her birthday there with her family. I'm sure that you all had a wonderful time and have some lovely photographs of memories from your time there.
    Many happy returns of the day Gigi's mum. Here's to many more birthdays at the lake. XXXX

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  17. Oh. Oh, I think I was meant for a lake in the woods. And an earlier, quieter time.



    I'll have to make my own summer, though. My own quieter times.

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  18. Perfection! A chair and a dock on the lake are my dream of the perfect vacation. Love, love EB White's description of the month of August on the lake. Yes, I would need to get up early and take the canoe out for a time of quietude.

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  19. Your words here speak to my heart, as I think you know they would. The best kind of way to spend precious hours. The best. C x

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  20. Oh my! That lake just looks absolutely delightful... what a beautiful way to share in summers end! So glad I stumbled across your blog today! Hope youre having a fabulous weekend
    xo tash

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  21. i agree about the chair and the wonderful shots. it looks so happy and loved.

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  22. Oh, how wonderful! I can't believe I lived in Rhode Island, yet never made it to Maine! Lakes are so lovely, though, I can picture myself here perfectly! I love your sweet blog, so happy to find you and happy to be your newest follower!

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  23. I am a lake girl, the ocean too many hours away, but lakes all around. nights on the lake, in a boat, the stars overhead, the sounds of the night - heaven. heaven. (love that chair.)

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  24. Gigi ~

    Just one quick thing to say: IT IS SO GOOD TO BE BACK READING YOUR WORDS!

    I've missed you and your beautiful thoughts....

    Have a wonderful week!
    Bisous,
    Melissa

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  25. we came back from the lake just last night and i miss it already.

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  26. I see my sister has just commented above ... I saw the campfire ring and immediately thought, "Oh where did that come from, I want to buy it for Margie."
    I dearly wish I could have been with my sister this past weekend but it was not meant to be. I love the lake too.

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  27. yes,and idyllic place for sure,Gigi...
    and a perfectly wonderful series of images to engage me in~
    happy belated birthday...
    I hope it was all that and more~

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  28. What gorgeous photos and your description is perfect! I feel like I'm there.
    Was it your birthday? I'm so glad you were born my friend...
    xoxo

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  29. It was actually my mum's birthday. Mine's coming up in October--my favorite month!

    Thanks for all the beautiful comments, everyone.

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  30. Oh, Kath, I wish I could tell you where you can find that awesome ring, but it belongs to a friend of my sister's. We were staying at her wonderful camp. I'd check out L.L. Bean, though. They always do moose-y items!

    I'll also check with my sister to see if she knows or can find out from her friend.

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  31. I have become a saltwater girl myself...but I grew up on the lake. We spent every summer camping and boating and soaking up sun rays along the lakeside.
    I'm so glad you have your own memories, new and old, of being on a beautiful lake...and to see the sun rise on one side and the moon set on the other...how absolutely wonderful!!

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