It’s the end of July 2017 and my month at Dyken Pond is drawing to a close. It’s been a quiet month, most of the days ran together in a lazy, no-agenda sort of pattern. I didn’t tackle any major projects this summer and have only ventured out on a handful of outings. The weather has not been spectacular like last summer. We’ve had lots of clouds and showers and a few days of non-stop drizzle like today. Ostensibly, I’m here to chaperone my mother, although I’ve spent the month of July most summers since the late nineties. While this has been a quieter-than-usual summer, it hasn’t failed to work its magic. I feel rested. A month of respite and retreat is invariably good for the soul.
We lost Dad last year and while Mom is remarkably sharp and fit for her 89 years, it’s a bit too wild for her to live here alone. As evidence, a bear wandered through our properties the week before last. The closest food store is a 27 mile round trip and roads are dark and winding. Mom can still drive in daylight when it’s dry, but up here the country roads often lack a double yellow line down the middle. Mom has commented on this several times. I think her macular degeneration causes her to rely a little too much on those lines to navigate. Her cottage, while charming and cozy, requires a wood fire to take the dampness out of the air on a rainy day. We’re good neighbors, Mom and I. We each live in our own house, but we are back and forth several times a day, for laundry and borrowing ingredients and floating on the lake when it’s sunny. We have dinner together every evening; often reviving favorite family recipes like Polynesian Pot Roast and homemade Baked Beans with hotdogs.
I’ve read a lot this month. With no TV and a slow DSL internet connection, I am mostly unplugged at the lake, hence the dearth of blogposts. I’ve been mostly absorbing rather than producing lately, although poetry has captured my attention. I am interested in the process of conveying a lot of meaning while using few words. So I dabble at that. I don’t miss the hamster-wheel sort of lifestyle that slowly but surely invades my days when I return to living in suburbia. I’m glad to slow down, glad for the break from technology, glad for a chance to let my thoughts wander.
I’m also glad for a more active lifestyle. I move around a lot more up here, and that makes me painfully aware of what my body can no longer do with ease. My joints ache, especially my knees. Swimming still feels great, but I don’t go off on hour-long hikes as I used to. There have been times this month I’ve been alarmed at how tired I feel and I’ve indulged in more than a few naps. But between moving around more and healthier eating habits, I’m physically better for the month away.
They say absence makes the heart grow founder. My heart was already pretty fond of a certain gentleman in New Jersey, so I’m not sure the old adage holds true. But I can say the time away has made me keenly aware of the almost forgotten joy of being in love. Michael charms me and delights me. He is endearing in his texts, phone calls and SKYPE sessions. Last weekend, we decided to meet half-way in Cold Spring, NY on the spur of the moment. Mom was with me as plans took shape that morning. She said my whole countenance changed and I smiled from ear to ear as we firmed up plans for our tryst. Michael made the drive up again this Tuesday evening so we could go to a concert in Saratoga Springs. We saw the Doobie Brothers and Chicago, and while the bands sounded great and we knew every song, the real fun of the evening was being together again. Yesterday, Michael spent the morning re-building the corner-footing on my porch. While I’m always a little sad to leave the lake, this year, I’m also glad to return to the life Michael and I are building together.
It was good to get away for the month and break away from 21st Century living. I relearned and recaptured a simpler, lovely way of life where time seems more of a leisure than a pressure. Must-haves retake their rightful place in the list of luxuries I can do without. Offenses and judgments that normally make my blood boil take on a softer, less threatening form and elicit from me thoughtfulness and understanding rather than wrath. The hardships and losses of life seem less threatening and the pleasures of life seem all the sweeter. Oh, that I could bottle this feeling and pop the cork whenever I need a whiff of a beautiful, balanced scent...