We spent this past weekend at some friends’ lakeside house. The home itself was not my taste by any stretch, but oh my God, it was so big it swallowed up our two families (nine people total), and the carpeted floors made no sound whatsoever when you walked over them, and the place was clean—new-construction, hired-maid, barely-occupied clean, and wow, that made it feel like a palace. Also, there was a giant window in the bedroom full of sky and the biggest lake in the world.
And were you aware there is a whole channel on television that shows almost nothing but Dora and something called Wonder Pets? Our TV is in our dank basement, and the last time we turned it on was Obama’s inauguration day. Our kids watch Signing Time and Mr. Rogers and Families of the World DVDs on the computer on special occasions (like when A is gone and I want to take a shower alone), but until this past weekend, “watching Dora” was something they had only learned about from friends at school, something they tried to replicate by propping a world atlas against the leg of the piano and staring at it while reclining on the couch. But these friends we were staying with were extra loose with the TV time for their kids, and it would have been rude of us to go against the tide, wouldn’t it? So May and August spaced out in front of the tube for long stretches while we lazed at the table on another floor of the house, catching up with our friends and eating bacon. It was terrific.
To balance out my calling out their TV habits, let me say that these friends have done a fairly awesome job of raising kids who are not only pretty darn smart and respectful, but also super creative and confident in the wilderness. Their 8-year-old gave us an expert tour of the lake shore, leading us fearlessly up and down steep rocks as the waves crashed up, ushering us into a drippy cave overlooking the surf, and deftly catching frogs for us to examine. All three (the youngest is August’s age) are seasoned hikers, so surefooted on rocks and roots. Very cool to see. Being around them inspired bravery all around.
We spent much of Sunday on smaller lakes, paddling and portaging a loop through a really wild and peaceful area—something I hadn’t done in way too long.
We spotted turtles. We trailed our fingers in the water. We sang. We took a mid-afternoon break to make s’mores and frolic, and then in the last hour of our journey, this happened…
…and our sweet friend helped A carry the whole boat—snoozers and all—right side up across a 30-rod portage.
I sort of can’t believe we were only away two and a half days. It’s the farthest I’ve been from home since Christmas, and how rejuvenating.