Happy & Sad

Today I was determined to get out to the lake for the first time since spring. First, though, I had to mail some boxes for Lina. Between getting the boxes ready and getting the van loaded, we left a lot later than I wanted and we still had to go to the post office to mail the boxes and stop by Walter’s office to get our “nice” camera for Lucy to use for a photo shoot.

We also stopped at a grocery store for a few picnic items, but we did eventually make it to the lake. As we had expected, the lake was very low after our dry, dry summer. The “beach” was more like a lawn–overgrown with plants to the point that you could barely see the water in the “swimming” area.

It was just Lucy, Jasper and me. So different from the days when I would have a van load of excited children with me! After our picnic lunch, Jasper went to check out the water while I did some knitting and Lucy painted her toenails. (Yes, I questioned that too.)

Eventually, Jasper talked Lucy into hiking out to a better part of the lake and going swimming. They took our inflated tube which says “River Rat” on it and which Jasper insists on referring to as “the riffraff.” Though they were quite far away, I could still see and hear them almost all the time they were out there.

Meanwhile, I may have dozed off in the shade for a while, before realizing that it was a great opportunity to call and talk to my brother Jon in California. I think we talked for about an hour and it was good to catch up with him.

We had the entire beach area to ourselves for the whole three hours or so that we were there. I don’t think there was even a single car that drove by. Hawks and buzzards circled overhead, the heron that fishes that part of the lake strutted up and down by the island, and the breeze ruffled the trees and grass undisturbed.

This is one of the reasons I like to take the kids to the lake, especially when it is unlikely that other people will be there. I love the sensation of having a piece of God’s creation to myself, if only for a few hours, and I want my kids to love it too. For me, growing up in rural Africa, it was easy to get away into a world that seemed untouched by any human activity. It became my refuge–not just something I enjoyed, but something I needed. It still is. Being alone outdoors, with no one but God to enjoy it with me, satisfies one of my deepest longings. (And yes, if you didn’t already know, I am a type of introvert.) I want my kids to experience that as often as I can make it happen. Having the whole wide sky and water and wildlife and even the wind to yourself is such a sublime yet affordable luxury. I’m pretty sure we’re going to go again soon.

We dropped Lucy off at the farm on the way home, so she could do her photo shoot with her friend Ilse for the 4-H Harvest Festival. We’ll pick her up tomorrow after Biology. Jasper and I were hot and thirsty when we got home, and I freely admit I was more than ready to enjoy our air-conditioned house again. Walter and the boys had borrowed a motorized “lift” and they used it to cut down a bunch of dead branches in our back yard. In addition to the branch that fell and destroyed our back porch roof, there was another branch that fell earlier this week, leaving a small hole in our main house roof. So I am very relieved to have this job taken care of.

The sad thing that happened today was finding out that my brave little lettuce plant had died during our absence today. It was lying limp and shriveled instead of standing tall and proud like it did yesterday. It’s all my fault. Last night as I was admiring it, I noticed that the water it was sitting in looked very cloudy and slimy, so I dumped it out and replaced it with fresh water. Result: death. Kind of makes me wonder how good that water is for me!

I have a pretty impressive sunburn given the fact that I was in the shade the entire time at the lake, with the exception of a couple of brief walks to the wash block and back! I really, really hope I don’t wake up sick tomorrow.

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