One of the ways I am rich is that I have the privilege of houses to visit on a whim. It's the product of being born into a family that has deep roots in the state and strong desires to have places to run to. Oceans and lakes and wide open spaces sing a siren song for my aunts, uncles, grandparents and parents, so throughout the years we've been fortunate enough to claim small pieces of the places they've loved outside the cities in Oregon we're usually tied to. It's a true blessing, to say--I think I will go to the ranch, I think I will go to the beach, I think I will head to the river--and though my pecuniary wealth is next to nothing, I am wealthy in so many other ways.
The lake, for example. In my family there is always only one lake, the lake. Lake of the Woods. It has been my grandparents' respite from the heat of Medford's valley floor for more than fifty years, the place my mom retreated to throughout much of her youth, the place I've gone every year since I was born. The lake! It's one of the very best places, singular in so many ways. Last week was the true start of summer for me. It started on the river, and then I got home and luxuriated in the space and time I'd been missing while I was occupied with school. And so when my parents said on Tuesday they thought they might head south that Friday, I said I think I could do that. In fact, I can't think of a single reason why I wouldn't.
I'm so glad I did. There's something about the quality of the light on the ceiling--my grandma points it out in the morning--and the sound of the water lapping on the shore, and the splash of the dogs as they barrel into the water after sticks, and the soft creak of the boathouse as we fall asleep at night. I am quick to unwind in the safety of that place. What I mean is that it's a place so full of family, of comfort and love, of the calm presence of my grandparents, that I can feel an internal coil begin to loosen as soon I walk out onto the deck. There are many places I am quick to relax, but few that I quiet the insistent voice in the back of my head that urges me to do something. To go for a hike, or see about a thing, or write a few pages. I just...pause.
You know I have the kind of mind that needs to be busy. My brain is what I think of as a hungry brain, one that doesn't do well with idleness. Without purpose and direction and goals I tend to get a kind of dullness that colors me a shade of gray I'm not fond of. Except, it appears, at the lake. I am languorous at the lake. My handwriting even changes into something long and loopy, so different from my otherwise tight scrawl. It is remarkable. I wonder why things change, I wonder how long it would take to lose it. But I treasure the feeling, and hesitate to push the boundary. Instead I want to savor it, return every so often to remind myself that I can find a settled kind of peace. Clear lake water down to the bottom of my soul.