My favorite kind of friend is the one who knows you so well that just by hearing your voice on the phone or seeing your face, they know exactly what kind of mood your in and just what you need. It is as if as the years pass, we develop a type of telepathic ear to one anothers empathy and nurturing needs. Well I needed a break from NYC, some peace and quite, so my girlfriend decided to invited me along to a cabin on the lake in the middle of nowhere, five hours north of Chicago.
Fresh air. Wide open spaces. Beautiful lake views. Trees. Chirping Birds not drowned out by honking automobiles. Looking forward to Camp Fires. Singing Crickets. Serenity.
Being a water baby, I pulled my swim suit out of the suit case first. Next I was on a mission to bring the giant inflatable floats with drink holders down to the pier along with a few beers. Unlike the Hudson river in New York City, you could actually see 12 feet down through the crystal clear water as the fish swam by. The water beckoned me and my straw coyboy hat, so I willingly dove in. Like a happy frog on a lilly pad, I climbed up on the float and coasted along the lake and stared up at the sky filled with cotton candy clouds. New York City was a far away blur and all my worries seemed to disappear in the sunshine and peacefulness of it all.
I laid there with the cool breeze swirling around me, reminiscing about how much the area reminded me of my childhood, and my grandfather's ranch. I laughed as I made an animal out of the clouds, I thought about the time my grandmother left the dryer door open in the laundry room, only to be suprised by the family of opossums that moved in. She screamed so loud the neighbor stopped by to see if we were alright. I thought about my black and gold labradors whom were so much bigger than me as a kid, that when they jumped up to greet me, they often pushed me over on my back in the mud. How I spent hours riding the horses, roaming through the forests alone and never getting lost. My father would take me cliff diving and we would race each other back to the boat.
The many happy memories fishing with my family. While at the lake I caught an eighteen inch small mouth bass. Which reminded me of how I was such the little scientist as a child that when I caught an electric eel, I thought we could keep it in an aquarium and use it to power the house. My father had to convince me otherwise by demonstrating 'catch and release' tactics with his own fish before I would give mine up. My first lesson in quid pro quo.
The tractor shape in the clouds reminded me of when my Grandfather finally allowed me to drive his bright orange tractor for the first time. I knocked over our neighbors white bee hive boxes in my excitement. It was the same day I learned I could run quite fast.
The barbed wire fence in the distance recalled memories of how my grandfather would often have us shooting tin cans off the fence for target practice. Although he would have been disappointed to learn we would also use the heads of flying dragon flys as target practice. I still feel guilty for being partially responsible for the eradication of the dragonfly population; luckily they breed fast.
I remembered sitting on the roof once, helping my grandfather while he was building his third ranch home and how he kept the nail gun away from my red headed cousin because he was evil incarnate. My cousin was so mean he liked to shoot turtles for fun, while I tried to save them. Many of the turtles in our pond were adopted into my turtle clinic, wrapped up with gauze and cartoon band aids until they could be released back into the wild. No matter how much trouble my evil cousin got in he would continue his bad behavior. When he thought no one was looking, he would throw the beetle bugs into the camp fire because he liked the 'popping' sound they made and he thought it was cool that they melted like heated chocolate. The sad thing is when he was not busy torturing the animals, it was me he tortured. I had a pet calf my grandfather let me name Moo. One summer while visiting my grandparents I noticed my calf, now a cow, was not in the pasture. I happened to mention Moo over my dinner salad, when my grandfather suddenly shot my cousin a look of disapproval. With a smirk on his face, my evil cousin told me, " Moo is not in the pasture because he is on your plate." With utter shock and horror, I dismissed myself from dinner, cried in my room and became a vegetarian for the next five years.
Mother nature must have felt my pain because the next day we were walking through a field to go to the lake, when my evil cousin accidently walked too close to the nest of a giant nutria rat about the size of a cat, and her babies. She chased after him with a fury, like a lion hungry for prey, and knocked him over. Lucky for him, even through my immense laughter, I was still a good aim. Just as she was getting ready to sink her orange teeth into his skin, I popped her in the rump with a pellet, which was enough to scare her away but not cause injury. He was much nicer to me afterwards. Which was probably because I reminded him for years about how I saved him from being rat food. Although I still wonder if I would have let the rat bite him, if she would have magically sucked the evil from his bones and saved all the innocent animals of the forest. He is grown now with two small boys of his own, one of which is the exact image of him. Hopefully his evil ways are not genetic. Maybe I should lovingly, give PETA his address when I return home.
I feel the rain of awakening on my skin. Tipping my straw hat up, a wave of water washes over me. My girlfriend is splashing me with water and I am soaked! I slide off my float and flip her off of hers, just in time for a sunset swim and dinner grilled over an open fire.
The evening is full of conversations over a flickering camp fire, smores and the moonlight reflecting off of shimmering lake water. Reflecting on the stars makes me feel grateful about how different my parents are; how the big city girl married the country boy. How I was lucky to be raised with both an appreciation for nature and for city life. How wonderful it is to have such a caring person in my life willing to whisk me away from it all. The unsubtle reminder revealed in the beauty of nature; the flowers, the trees, the birds, and the butterflies surrounding me. All you need is to escape from it all and surround yourself with nature, peace and quiet.
Here you are reminded that it takes very little to live a joyous and serene life.