Sunday, August 01, 2010

A Place Apart, Part Two

(The continuation of the story of my time at Echo Lake with some girlfriends, something definitely on "The List." For part one, click here. If you don't know what the list is, click here.)

I suppose I should start by noting that there isn't any punchline to this story. There isn't any major drama or suspenseful climax. There were no tragedies or big surprises. It was just a really, really enjoyable weekend and I want to write it all down so I can remember it. I would say my memory isn't what it used to be...if it used to be something. But my memory has always been short and somewhat inaccurate. I think the writer/artist in me tends to rewrite all of my personal history so that it flows better as a photojournalistic account. It's usually pretty, but not always accurate. That is why I write here. So if you are one of my five faithful readers and are hanging on every word of this multi-part post, please don't be disappointed, but nothing very big is coming.

So, where was I? Oh, yes--the dock. We spent the rest of the afternoon on and off the dock, in that most classic of all lazy-day-by-the-waterfront cycles: swim, sun, repeat. Echo Lake is spring-fed and is surprisingly warm--not like most Montana lakes. Usually a swim in a lake in Montana is described with words like invigorating or refreshing, which we all know are just code words for really cold, but worth it on a hot day. Swimming in Echo Lake was downright pleasant--warm, clean and clear. So nice.

Different people were slipping away for naps or to go off alone to read or whatever. Dinner was easy to prepare and we lingered over it on the deck. Everything was comfortable. We very quickly slipped into retreat mode.

As the light began to fade in the sky, I thought again about the dock and the best way to set up for a good night out there. The ramp to the dock was too short by several feet and the shoreline dropped off dramatically, which meant that, to get back and forth to the shore it was necessary to wade in water more than knee deep. This would definitely hinder late night trips to the bathroom. While the rest of us just lazily watched and made snide comments about wood and how it floats, Nance found some unused planks and rounds of firewood and made an extension to the ramp. She secured it in place with large, flat rocks and it was actually a very workable solution. Now only the soles of one's sandals needed to get wet in order to get up and down off the dock.

After I'd apologized for my disbelief and mockery, Nance, Jen and I hustled back to the cabin to round up what we would need for the night before we lost the last of the light. Diane and Cindy had opted to sleep indoors. Jen chose one of the chaise lounges; Nance had brought a very thick folding foam pad, and I borrowed Diane's camping cot, which she takes with her to fire camps. Once all of our bedding was set up,I made a fire and Jen took her guitar out of its battered case. Her light and clear voice is the type that makes you want to sit still and listen...forever. Soon we were all singing along, adding in all the harmony parts we knew and making up those we didn't know (except for Nance, who had turned in early and was listening contentedly from the dock as she watched the stars blink on, one at a time).

At some point, it got late, so we put out the fire. We never did do well at keeping track of the time that week. The clock on the microwave just blinked and the kitchen clock had stopped at ten minutes before eleven. No one bothered to reset either of them and we kept our cell phones put away for necessary use only. The whole week went by like that and whenever a perceived need to know the time came up, we just ignored it. Someone would invariably remark that it was almost eleven. It was almost eleven all week long. So at ten minutes before eleven, we headed to bed.

I didn't sleep much that first night. It wasn't for a lack of comfort, for my bed was quite cozy and I was warm under my covers with a cool breeze on my face--the best combination for sleeping to me. No, I didn't sleep much because I was distracted by the sky. It was gorgeous. The light scattered clouds drifting slowly on the breeze, the stars and an occasional satellite, the nearly full moon crossing in front of me and finally the first grey light of dawn which led to a spectacular sunrise--it was just too much to ignore. With the luxury of knowing I was free to nap and catch up on sleep later, I only dozed intermittently, with long stretches of awake and alone time to watch the beautiful sky, so full and large above me. When the sun finally hit the water and the others began to stretch and wake up, I felt oddly refreshed, like I knew a special secret just between God and me. I never did feel tired that next day. That was the best night's sleep I never got.

To be continued...

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