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.