Wednesday, August 25, 2010


Finally, the hammock is down. The windows facing the lake have been boarded over. The kayaks, the grill and the patio furniture have been stored in the guest house. The flags—the American and the block O—have been lowered, folded and stored in the closet. The circuit breakers are in the off position. The pipes have been emptied, and the toilet and drains filled with antifreeze, etc. The beds are stripped.The half empty bottles of mustard and mayonnaise and kosher dills are packed into a box I will drop off at a neighbor’s because I can’t stand to throw away any food except stale bread. The doors are closed and locked.

I sat on the deck watching my husband take a final dip in the lake after all the work of closing up. The sun was shining and the cicadas were shrieking, but it still felt like summer. I spotted a few changes. The nights are cooler. A few spots of color have appeared in the trees. Summer is over, and it's time to head home.

When I retire, I shall live at camp year round. Then it will be summer all the time.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Time to leave Maine

In Spanish, “querencia” describes a place where one feels safe, a place from which one's identity is drawn, a place where one feels most at home. For some people, querencia is associated with nature—a particular city or landscape or body of water. For others, querencia is associated with certain people or animals. My querencia is summer at camp. Living in Maine in the summer centers me for the rest of the year when I can’t be here.

Now it is late August. Once again, we are sleeping under the comforter, not just a single sheet. Acorns drop from the oaks onto the roof. The loons from all over the lake gather at our end to make their travel plans before heading south to do whatever they do all winter. These loon conventions are called “stagings.” We watch them practice their take offs and landings on the open stretches of the water and we hear them yodel in flight.

It is a pity that summer has to end. But each summer’s memories help us through the rest of the year so that we have something great to look forward to. We do take some of the summer bounty with us when we leave. We harvest the cranberries by the shore to make jelly for our Thanksgiving dinner. And the blueberry jam we’ve made for our English muffins will last all winter. Leaving is bittersweet. Time to paint my toenails red and head back

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fishing on Little Sebago Lake

He enjoys true leisure who has time to improve his soul’s estate.” Thoreau, Journal

My husband Rollie says that when he is fishing, he never feels as though he should be doing something else. Fishing allows him a few hours of peace and quiet, when he is able to step outside of himself and his responsibilities and just be.

But it’s not just the change of pace. He says it’s the sensory experiences too. He likes being out on the lake when the light fades and the mists rise from the water to soften the shoreline in the distance. He likes the silent ripple of the water as a loon surfaces nearby. And then there’s the act of casting the line itself.

He also likes the mental challenge of figuring out where the fish are and under what conditions they will take the bait. He likes the thrill of feeling the pull of the fish on the line and the challenge of getting it over the side of the boat before it lets go. And then, of course, there’s the exhilaration of racing back to shore in the boat at the end of the evening. It really doesn’t matter much, he says, whether he catches any fish at all. In fact, he releases most of his catch.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Little Sebago Lake Summer Images

My friend Ed is a faithful reader of this blog. He occasionally makes comments and suggestions about my writing. This week he has reminded me that not everyone is as text oriented as I am, and perhaps more pictures and video (and fewer words) might be a welcome addition to this blog. Good idea, Ed! Here is a link to a site I have created to showcase some of my favorite photos and videos of my Little Sebago Lake summers. I’ll be adding more images to this site in the weeks to come.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Shaking off the village

I am back from meeting my new grandson. I could go on and on about that amazing baby, but this blog is about my summer at the lake, so I’ll stay focused on that here.

I have been rereading Thoreau this summer. Like me, Thoreau liked to take long walks to clear his mind and renew his spirit. Okay, okay. I also walk because the dog needs exercise and we both need to burn some calories. Maybe even skip a few meals. Thoreau doesn’t make any mention of this in his essay.

Thoreau preferred walking in the woods. I like walking on the dirt road. He walked in a parabola—I walk in a straight line. Thoreau liked evening “saunters”—I prefer brisk morning exercise. However, Thoreau and I do share one thing in our walking habits. Like Thoreau, I try to focus on the moment when I walk, on what I’m seeing and hearing and smelling on the journey. I really make an effort. Thoreau called it “shaking off the village.”

I like to use a walking stick when I go into the woods. My friend Ed carved my favorite walking stick from a tree taken from our property on the lake. It is about five feet tall and an inch and a half in diameter. The top is carved into a bearded face, a wood sprite who scowls at me during our walks. The hand grip is wrapped in soft deer skin, laced on with a thin strip of rawhide. I take it into the woods in the even that some wild animal might try to attack me or the dog. Of course, that has never happened.

Here is my walking stick: