Posted by: Peadar Ban | August 19, 2010

Just Another Day

Sometimes, in my fast approaching dotage I find myself like an old dog looking for that comfortable spot near the hearth, not too much in the sun, or that place out in the yard under the tree where I can plop, after a circle and a sniff, put my snout on my front paws and move little more than my eyes as I watch the world go by.  The other day was just such a time.  The whole day was just another day in the thousands gone by.  But, such a simple day makes the difference!

Mariellen and I had accepted the kind invitation of her sister and brother-in-law, Peg and Rick, to join them in their hide away vacation spot on Lake Wentworth in Wolfeboro, NH, a little cabin not three feet from the water’s edge; on the north side protected by tall pine trees and facing a wide vista of quiet waters, green jewels of islands, gentle green hills reclining on the other shore, taller mountains in the hazy blue distance and an ever changing sky above.  We arrived for a late supper on Monday night, stayed awake catching up on families and what all until late and retired to the gentle whisper of water on the rocks just outside our tiny bedroom, the soughing fingers of wind through the pines and the lonesome calls of the loons echoing across the lake.

When I awoke at about 6:00am the world was shrouded in mist.  My horizon ended in a motionless gray curtain about 100 yards off shore behind which there might have been, as I pleased myself imagining, a crew of immortal stage hands arranging a perfect day for me.  To my left, east of me, there was beginning the faintest hint of brightness in the sky and on the glass smooth water.  Our neighbor’s little sailboat slept at its mooring a few yards offshore in that direction still as a painting in shades of gray.  Its small white mast measured the height of the mist as tendrils twirled around it.

I stood for several minutes on the tiny pier and waited in the silence for a sound, a slight movement, anything that would show there was really there what I had seen last evening.  Only my breath gave an answer, and the slight slap of tiny water stirrings against the tumbled rocks on the shore behind me.

Turning I walked down the pier and into the little house, got my camera and returned to the pier to take some pictures of this unfinished place.  Then I went back to the little house again to sit and read awhile until the stage had been set and the curtain went up.

Later on in the morning, after everyone was up, and Peg had made some delicious coffee, and Mariellen was out on the pier talking with her, I joined them.  We chatted about nothing very much, continuing last night’s conversation, describing our summer-so-far for each other.  At one point Peg asked what would we like to do, and Mariellen looked over at me; that “Honey, what would YOU like?” look.

I simply said that I would like to do nothing but stay where I was the whole day and watch the sun move over the water until day was done.

It had risen fully by then, poked above the trees and sent beams across the water to the blue gray hills beyond.  Mist had risen into clouds, and clouds had begun to move south and east, more forming behind and climbing over the hills as we sat.  A steady breeze stirred up the water, and way across the lake, on the deeper side, we heard the busy buzz of outboard engines, saw a few small boats whirling water skiers around.  A marvelous, yet ordinary, work was underway.

Here, though, only the wind, the small birds behind us on the land and the occasional chorus of ducks across the lake made noises besides our three voices, and the sand on the lake bed glowed gold in the strengthening sun.  One chipmunk ran across the rocks and a hawk swung across the lake going south into the hills while a loon gave cry to his presence.

I watched the ducks feeding, and read my book, took a nap, snapped a few more shots of the hills changing color and shape as the light moved across them, counted shiners in the shallows as the afternoon wore on.  Peg and Rick went into Wolfeboro on their bikes and Mariellen and I sat quietly reading to each other.  The book is about a future where evil has been chained up for thousands of years; banished after a great war, and now is beginning to seep into the world once more.  The ways in which it manifests itself are subtle, surprising, thought provoking and often very convicting.  Of course there are other not so subtle ways, the stuff of headlines and heartaches.

When they returned, Rick suggested that we might like to take a turn around the quiet waters in the neighbor’s kayaks.  I allowed myself to be persuaded, and we headed out onto the water for a fifteen minute paddle-about; up and down the shore for a few hundred yards and out to a small island about a quarter mile away.  I would like to have stayed on the lake surface slowly bobbing along, but I realized that they’d want me back in, and I was getting hungry.  I wished, as I paddled back to the dock, that someone would do the paddling for me.  I wasn’t tired at all.  I simply wanted to be totally passive.  It was a most strange kind of reaction.

The afternoon progressed, and so did the sun across the sky.  On the water a steady breeze kicked up for an hour or so, heavier clouds darkened the sky and I thought it might rain.  But, no, they fled down east after all the other clouds,  brightness returned, wind abated and the day progressed in beauty.  The short display of force reminded me of that part of the Pastorale Symphony where the storm threatens.

As the shadows grew longer and deeper a band of gray clouds formed over the highest hill on the south side of the lake and hung there.  Rick looked at it and said it was going to be a pretty sunset.  Sure enough, he was right.  Some half hour later, after the impromptu and very funny ceremony of raising the “Cocktail Flag”, while he grilled our supper and Peg and Mariellen put together some salads, I stood out on the pier again with my camera.

We ate in the fading light, watching the last hints of gold in the western sky, the brightening moon and the jeweled light of Venus beaming brightly at us just over the top of Gunstock’s  now darkening slopes to the west.

While the sky was still a deep purple we took our leave and drove home.

Peg likes to say of each day she’s there that it’s just another day in Paradise.  I wonder if she knows how true that is.

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