I’ve been busy, not that being busy is in any way unusual for me, but there have been deadlines to some of what I’d had to do this past week (consulting work), and getting things done that require paying attention, sitting at a desk, in a hot house, has not been easy. Normally, I spend an hour or three at a time at my desk, whether writing a grant as a consultant, or doing a webinar, or doing my own work, editing poetry or writing an essay or pulling something together for one of the boards I’m on. When I get restless, which happens a lot, I go outside and weed my garden for a while, go for a bike ride, a swim, a walk, or pick some of the abundance of wild blueberries this year, something outside and direct and physical.
Not this week. When I needed a break from my work, I just walked around looking for a cooler space in the house. Being outside during the day was impossibly uncomfortable and hot. I did go swimming, but not much else. I got my work done, went for a swim, then sat on the back deck at the end of the day with David, both of us basically panting, trying to stay cool enough to get through dinner and get into bed with multiple fans blowing on us. My brain was on semi-permanent melt — work, eat, collapse. What was there to say that would be interesting for a blog?
But I was paying attention to the forecast (another thing that is not in any way unusual for me) and kept seeing the temperatures predicted for Friday as being the highest of the week. Early in my week of work, I decided to get what I needed done completed by Thursday afternoon so David and I could have a summer vacation day on Friday.
We did. We got up yesterday morning and put the kayak racks on the car for the first time this summer, then loaded up the kayaks and a cooler of snacks, and headed for Squam Lake. Squam Lake is a special place for me. It was our family vacation spot for all the years from when Sam was a year old until two years after Eric died — 21 years. Kayaking on Squam was Eric’s favorite thing to do, the lake his favorite place in the world. The day Eric died, as we were trying to figure out how to prepare his body for pick up by the funeral home, Adrienne, Sam, John and I agreed that nothing would be so fitting as dressing Eric in his kayak shorts and water shoes. We considered putting a paddle beside him, to be tucked into the coffin and buried with him, but knew Eric would object to that as a waste of good equipment.
As David and I turned onto Metcalf Road yesterday, headed for the kayak launch spot on Squaw Cove, a wave of memory passed through me, bringing back all the years of getting ready for a week on the lake, all the years of Eric and I kayaking to favorite spots to swim and pick berries and relax, all the years of dipping our paddles into the clear lake water as we watched the march of the Sandwich Range mountains fading into the haze of summer days on the north shore.
Yesterday on the lake was perfect. It was viciously hot in most of the country, but fine sitting on the fine white sand beaches of Squam Lake, half-submerged in water. David and I paddled and swam and read and had a picnic and I wrote in my Island Journal, a memoir I’m writing that I can only write while on islands (more on that in a later post). We went to three islands yesterday. At one point I asked David how he was doing (not an easy week for either or us, for reasons as easy to ascribe to the heat as anything else) and he said, “I’m great. This is the essential ‘us.’ Getting out into the world and moving and being and enjoying”
We didn’t leave the lake until dinner time, driven back to our car by hunger. We picked up sandwiches in Holderness and ate sitting on a dock, watching the light fade over the water. Yes, maybe it was a week too hot for blogging, a week to hot for anything but getting done what had to be done. But it was an evening cool enough for imagination, after a week soaked in the sweat of real life and obligation. Time to let go. Time to float into a weekend as the cooler air moved in.