Lake Dreams

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Dreaming of the lake

Last weekend I went up to the lake. I have a small cabin there, not much of a place – one bedroom, one bath, but all mine with 80′ of shoreline. It is, in a word, heaven.

Here is a breakdown of my typical day last weekend:

  • Get up at 7:30AM. Dress in walking gear and grab the dog. Hike a nearby rail trail with him for an hour.
  • Get home, eat breakfast.
  • Change into swimsuit and shorts, go take the kayak out before the lake gets too busy.
  • Get home, change into comfy clothes and take a nap.
  • Get up, grab a cup of coffee and read an old fashioned murder mystery while sitting by the lake.
  • Put on work clothes, clean up sticks and rake leaves for 45 minutes.
  • Back into comfy clothes, take another nap.
  • Get up, have lunch.
  • Back into work clothes, another 45 minutes doing yard work.
  • Head in for a glass water and a snack, then go sit by the water and read.
  • 6:00PM change into walking gear, take the pooch out for another hour hike on the trail.
  • Change back into swimsuit and head back out on the kayak once the “no-wake” time starts at 7:00 for a final quiet paddle around the lake.
  • Get into comfy clothes, make and eat dinner.
  • Have a glass of wine while reading more of my murder mystery.
  • 11:00PM go to bed.

When I am at the cabin, I change clothes a lot. I reuse them – I only have one pair of old jeans and a t-shirt for raking the lawn, one swimsuit for kayaking, and so on, but there is a lot of switching of clothes.

I also get a lot of sleep. I usually stay up later than I do when I am home, but I also get up later (as long as Hermes lets me. Sometimes my pup doesn’t quite understand weekends.) I always manage to get several naps in. There is something about laying on that couch – windows open, breeze coming in of the water… it is just too perfect not to nap.

A mayflower on the hiking trail. Hermes in the distance.

A mayflower on the hiking trail. Hermes in the distance.

Most importantly, I am active. It wasn’t always this way. I used to get there and my only movement was from the couch to the lawn chair and back again. But now I find I want to do things. I love being on the water and hiking with Hermes. It seems like this is the kind of life I should be living. Oh, I know I have to work in there somewhere – the bills won’t pay themselves. But now that I have more things that I like to do, and I have more energy to do them, it feels right. I makes me happy.

There is another side to all this, though. I call it “re-entry.” Eventually I have to come back to reality. My life is very, very good and I have many things that I love here, but there is also all the stress and problems of everyday living that pop up. Suddenly I have to check my email and return phone calls. There are angry customers and annoying coworkers to deal with. There is a distinct lack of a kayak. I am very hard to live with following a cabin weekend. “Grumpy” is probably the kindest word I can use.

It eventually passes, but it is a good reminder of what I need more of in my life. I don’t need a big house, fancy gadgets or a nice car. I need a spot on a lake, a boat to paddle around on it, and a good place to walk my dog.

 

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A Weekend Hike

I thought about going up to the cabin this weekend. It was one of my few weekends that was completely free before the onslaught of holiday busyness kicks in. What stopped me? Daylight Savings. Since Daylight Savings last weekend, sunset is at 5:30pm. By the time I got up there on Saturday, there would only be a few hours left. Then I would have to come back early on Sunday to avoid driving in the dark. (It’s fall, which means the deer are moving and there are a lot of deer by my cabin. I try to avoid driving in the dark up there this time of year if I can.)

So I stayed in town and had a “cabin weekend” at home. I did all the things I love to do “Up North”: I slept in, read books and took naps. I also went for a couple of runs and a hike in the woods.

The “woods”, in this case, is a park near where I grew up. It’s also near the cemetery where my father is buried. After he first past away, I would go visit his gravesite then follow it up with a hike. I haven’t been out there in fall though, it was a little different. Once all the leaves came down, the trails are harder to spot. You have to kind of trust your instincts and not look too close. If you concentrate too hard it’s easy to lose your way, but if you trust your gut, you’re fine. The other tricky thing was the tree roots. In the summer someone goes out and spray paints the ones that stick up out of the path so you can see them. In the fall, those helpful signs are covered in leaves. It pays not to get too cocky when you walk.

It was a lovely though. It was a cloudy day and Hermes and I were there about an hour before sunset, so we had the trails to ourselves. (He, of course, was in dog heaven.)

My Hike, in Photographs

Friday had been a great run, so Saturday I was hoping to go for four in a row. It didn’t work out that way, however. I’ve mentioned that I do freelance work – I’m in the middle of a project right now. Saturday, I ended up running all over town in search of materials.

It was a gorgeous summer day, one of those perfect days. I had packed my running gear just in case… but shopping for hours took all the zip out of my stride. I ended up driving from one corner of the city to the other, and by the end, I was in that dazed, overstimulated state that comes from too much shopping.

On my way home, I started thinking about what I could do. I knew I was in no shape to run, but I figured I could walk. And if I could walk, I could hike. I had been wanting to explore the park where I ran my first trail run, so when I got home I grabbed my long pants, my bug spray and my dog, and off we went. I have lots of photos to share!

A good, clear trail.

A good, clear trail.

As I mentioned before, the starting trail at this park is pretty clear. However, it isn’t that long before it gets a little harder to find.

Not quite so clear.

Not quite so clear.

It was a feast for the eyes. In addition to the greenery, there was a fair amount of wildlife around: robins, cardinals, crows and woodpeckers. I saw toads, a couple of big butterflies, and some rabbits. The wildflowers were beautifully in bloom: Queen Anne Lace, Joe Pye Weed, Black Eyed Susans, Shasta Daisies, Yarrow, Chicory and more. Unfortunately, the black flies were also out. It turned out to be a very, very good thing I had some high-powered bug spray with me.

While I see echinacea in gardens all the time, this was the first time I have seen them in the wild.

While I see echinacea in gardens all the time, this was the first time I have seen them in the wild.

As you might expect, Hermes was in heaven. We walk every day, but I live in the heart of the city. Other than when we get up to the cabin, he doesn’t get out in the woods much. When we came to a small bench overlooking the river. I paused to take a couple of photos, but he just wanted to go, go, go!

That right there is one happy, happy dog. Look at that tail!

That right there is one happy, happy dog. Look at that tail!

There is something about being out in the woods with a dog. Even though I had a GPS/Camera/Phone in my back pocket, fancy-schmancy biodegradable poop bags and super bug spray, I felt connected to my ancestral past. There is something particularly special about following a hound dog in the woods…

I feel very Southern at this moment.

I felt very Southern at this moment.

Finally, the trail took us down to the river. Have I mentioned that it is a large river?

Seriously, it's a big river.

Seriously, a big river.

Looking in the other direction…

See? I told you.

See? I told you.

Hermes had no problem heading right in to get a drink and look for fish.

C'mon in Mom! The water's fine!

C’mon in Mom! The water’s fine!

Somewhere right about here, the river reached up and grabbed my heart. I’ve lived fairly close to this river my whole life, but I can’t say I’ve ever thought about it much. Mostly, it is just another feature in my city that I drive by, or over. Lately though, I have been spending a lot more time beside it. I’ve now run in five different parks along this river. Each of the parks give a different portrait of her, but this one was different. As Hermes and I stood on the shore, I felt something in my heart give. It was akin to the feeling I have when I am at my cabin standing on my shoreline – my heart flooded with love.

This is the second time I have been overcome with emotion at this park. The first was on my first trail run, when suddenly I knew, this was one of the biggest reasons for learning to run at all – the joy of the trail run. Each of the parks where I run has a little nickname, but I can’t have 5 parks all called “River Park.” I’m naming this one “Flooded Heart Park,” in part for how it made me feel, and in part because all around me, I could see evidence of the flood from last spring. Evidence like this:

It might be hard to tell, but this is a walking bridge that has been completely moved off it's spot. For now, while it is dry, the trail goes down through the creek bed.

It might be hard to tell, but this is a walking bridge that has been completely moved off it’s spot. For now, while it is dry, the trail goes down through the creek bed.

It’s funny how certain places can spark emotion.

And just like that, the river owned a piece of my soul.

And just like that, the river owned a piece of my soul.

There were more surprises in store. Hermes and I kept going. We stopped by the water several times, headed down some side trails and checked out some animal tracks beside a stream. Then the trail looped back and headed into a grassy walking area. At the end was a picnic spot with a fire pit.

I had no idea places like this even existed within my city.

I had no idea places like this even existed within my city.

There was a couple of tables, stacked wood, and a pit ready to go. Not far away was another observation point – this time a deck that hung out over the river. I preferred the wild places, but I like knowing this is here.

I’ve always been drawn to birds, in particular, herons, but all birds are special to me.* As Hermes and I prepared to leave, there on the trail near the parking lot, I spied a woodpecker feather.

Feather

A sign or an invitation?

I can’t wait to go back.

* Note: I love all birds except for seagulls and Canada Geese. Those birds are mean.