Camp days

Where I grew up, “camp” was the word most people used to describe summer camps; places where they left their children for weeks or months at a time. In my family, camp meant a little red house on the banks of Lake Seymour. It’s too home-like to be a cottage, too rustic for a summer house. This place lies smack dab in the middle of cottage and home. It’s camp.

I just finished Alain de Botton’s The Art of Travel, which has me daydreaming of far-off shores, but also reminded me of why I love it here – a little red house resting quietly on a lake in the Northeast Kingdom.Seymour Lake

At night, I sleep on the back porch with every window thrown open and the brook raging in my ears. The trees are our curtains. In the morning, I brew weak coffee in the percolator and drink it all day long. I sweep the front deck and set out the chair cushions. The lake is at our doorstep. She has her moods – rowdy in the morning and calm at night, or vice versa. She is wide enough that motorboats don’t cause a ruckus and deep enough that she never really gets warm. Even in July, her crystal-clear waters make you gasp. It’s best to just dive in.

Our main view is of the pointed hill across the lake. (It’s name is Elon, but I always think of it as Élan.) Behind it, the pointed peaks of Mount Westmore. Stretching like a snout from the hill into the water is Wolf Point. It certainly looks like a long canine muzzle, complete with a defined patch of conifers for a nose. I sometimes wish it didn’t look so much like a nose… I find myself staring at it when I really could be looking at other things –

Like the loons diving into the water, or the conical silhouettes of conifers against their round, deciduous neighbors.

After an evening run along VT Route 111, I cool my muscles the fastest way I can think of – by walking into the water. The water level is high this week, so it takes just a few steps to reach my thigh. I dive in. I don’t fully know how to describe the shock of submerging oneself in truly cold water. It’s as if your cells go into panic mode as your mind narrows to encompass one simple word (COLD) and one simple purpose (GET OUT YOU CRAZY GIRL). I don’t stay in for long; just a minute or two. But before I leave the water, I smile and touch my wet fingers to my lips. Thank you, I love you.

If you’re looking for me this week, I’m not around. I’m just spending a few days by the lake and nights on the porch of a little red camp. The brook will sing me to sleep.

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