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Home2019-08-06T13:52:30-05:00

A Plan for Joy

Signs of fall begin to show their faces; the distant mountains are glowing with a winter-like light. Color has not yet kissed the trees, though they have started to turn from brilliant to dull greens with a slight hint of decay. Cracking Voices Baby loons who have spent the summer at flight school are awkwardly soaring overhead as they excitedly shout, “I’m flying! Look at me, I’m flying!” in their immature, cracking loon voices. Their big trip to Florida is just around the corner.  The sounds of silence have begun: fewer passing boats, fewer sounds of wakes hitting the shore, fewer sounds of glee from water skiing and tubing kids. Some will be back for a last hurrah for Labor Day.  Senior Year It’s weirdly silent around here, as my wife and two of the triplets have gone back for the start of senior year in high school. I’ll soon follow them after some meetings that will keep me here till Labor Day.  Leaving here is the saddest part of our year, just as arriving is our happiest. Over the past few years, when my family stayed at my dad’s place on the lake, we’ve known his “listed” camp could be

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A Walk in the Woods

As I step into the rustic old metal boat from the rickety wooden dock at the edge of the shore, the boat rocks gently while the outboard engine turns over again and again until it finally starts. Carefully I back out, trying not to scar the sides of the boat on the long dock. As I cruise quietly across the lake, the dark sky is lit by the full moon, I see distant mountains silhouetted against the greenish-blue sky and nearby islands with ragged pines standing proud. Sprinkling the sky like distant sequins, the stars brightly twinkle between moonlit clouds. Perfection The night is the most perfect I can remember. The lake is like glass, the temperature is perfect, there is not a bug in sight, and it makes me want to sleep under the stars — or at least sleep on the porch and hope the bears don’t pay a surprise visit. Showered in Stars My favorite times on the lake are nights like the one I experienced earlier this week. Stopping the boat, turning the engine off, and drifting in the middle of the lake while lying back watching meteor showers. It brings me closer to my Creator and

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A Red Letter Week

Imagine, if you will. I’m sitting here in the screened-in porch, in an old white wicker chair with muted red cushions in a Native American pattern. The porch is octagon-shaped, and sits at the edge of the lake. Silhouettes of pine tree branches are in view, along with distant hills covered with trees and a few old stick and log boathouses that sit right on the lake. You can’t build them like that anymore, it’s not permitted. Typing With Dog My typing this morning is labored, with my iPad pushed out on to the edge of my knees and my hands reaching over the small gray dog resting on my lap. His name is Chewy, and he’s insistent on staying close to me this morning, probably because of the cold air out here. His brother Weasley is staring up at me with giant brown eyes, wondering why he’s not in my lap, too, but that simply isn’t possible while I’m typing.  My grandmother used to say, “This is a red letter day,” but for me, this was a red letter week, one of the most special weeks of my life. Breaking Ground I grew up at 5311 Indiana Avenue in Fort

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Why Roadblocks Are a Blessing

Golden sun is streaming into my eyes as it lights up the deep green, now golden color pines around the dock and illuminates the red Adirondcack chairs until they glow. A shimmer of light skips across the almost mirror like surface of the lake, barely a visible wave, as the echo of loon calls bounces from shore to shore.  The sound “plop” and a few rings in the water are from a fish that jumped as if to say “catch me if you can.” Yesterday giant white sheets of Egyption cotton on 120 year old wooden boats danced across the lake, with the distant mountain framing a photo so beautiful it should be on the cover of a magazine.  A Guest Who Never Left The blessing of home ownership here on this lake was not an instant task. I came on to this lake over 30 years ago as a guest who never left, hoping one day to have the means and the rare opportunity of ownership here synchronized.  Luck Has Nothing to Do With Anything I used to look at those who had accomplished dreams in their lives as people who were lucky, or perhaps part of the lucky

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Emotional Triggers

The soft wind tickles the birch leaves and deep green pines as they move gently in harmony with the breeze that appeared here in the wilderness overnight, after an intense furnace of heat baked us over the past few days. Rocking on the Porch Soft, squishy carpets of transparent red oxide pine needles blanket the ground below this old porch where I sit rocking. It’s my first time on this porch, looking over the lake. It’s about 25 feet long against the decorative wood shingles on the wall, a bird feeder hanging from the 120-year-old roofline, perched on a slight hill about 10 feet from the shoreline.  The Smell of Pines The seven owners over the past 120 years have tastefully hidden these cabins in the trees, not visible from the water. The tall, established trees share the shoreline with fields of blueberry bushes and young pines hoping to one day make the journey to the sky. Brain on Fire My favorite mornings are those when I’m feeling well rested and my brain has been spitting out ideas faster than a firehose into a teacup. I awaken to capture them all with pen and ink, knowing some will be lost

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Living a Fascinating Life

The ring of the old clock strikes the top of the hour. A hammer on old springs, barely has any life left after chiming atop the old fireplace for so long, but still wound once a week as it has been for the past 120 summers. Furniture made of sticks and woven tree bark has accompanied the clock for the journey in this old camp. The bead and board walls and the ceilings are carefully angled to create designs, and the giant stone fireplace in the center of the living room is the only warmth for a cold day. A Giant Mirror Glancing out the old diamond-shaped windows through pine branches, I see the lake is still and reflecting like a giant mirror, showing the pine-forest shoreline and the blue-and-white sky with a layer of brightly lit mist along the horizon. I sit here in the octagonal window seat, warming myself in the sun. The dogs, Weasley and Chewey, are snuggled into the wool blanket beside me. About the only thing we’ve added to this place are a few old-looking paintings, my guitar, which sits nestled in the corner, and a new family. Badge of Courage I’ve been reading a

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5 Tips That Change Everything

My cold skin is instantly warmer as I sit in the sun-baked 100-year-old Adirondack chair on the old stone porch next to the dock. Once the foundation of a lakefront house that burned decades ago, this porch has a view across a vast lake, reflecting the blue overhead and the distant forests that surround it. The water is splashing against the shore from the wake of an old aluminum rowboat en route to the next secret fishing hole. The roaring sound of its 1950s-era outboard motor briefly disrupts the chirps from the branches above. As it passes, the cheery chirping returns. Sly and the Family Stone Pondering memories created here at the lake with the family, I’m reminded of a song from my youth, “Hot Fun in the Summertime.” The kids will never forget their summers here, sailing across the lake with friends, cruising in speedboats towing inner tubes or skiers, hiking the deep forests, even cleaning up garbage cans invaded by rogue raccoons and bears. Though my own lake memories growing up did not involve bears, forests, or raccoons on Lake Wawasee, in Indiana, I can remember the freedom I felt driving the boat as fast as I could,

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One Thing to Change Your Life This Summer

Flashes of lightning so powerful they illuminate the dark billowing clouds in the sky, creating a late Independence Day fireworks display. Faint and distant roars of thunder continue as if they’ll never end, with an occasional boom for effect. On Golden Pond I’m rubbing my hands together to warm them in the cold front that traveled in with the rains, yet I cherish this old screened-in porch so much, I cannot skip a morning here. Each morning I come here with my coffee and my breakfast, and it’s where I end each day to enjoy the warm afternoon light as it floods the distant trees with orange. After dinner, it’s where I sit to enjoy the silence, with an occasional welcome interruption from the cry of the loons. This is Golden Pond. Three Views The porch is an octagon with lake views in three directions, views of the old moss- and pine-bough-covered shingle roofs in another direction, and the old lakefront fireplace on the other side. Once there stood a boathouse, when ladies wore long white dresses and men in ties and seersucker suits and round straw hats stepped into the old launch to properly cruise these lakes. Today the

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What Owns You?

A reddish orange glow filled the sky like a Hudson River School scene — a sunrise so brilliant and so colorful, no one would believe it in a painting. The light streamed in through my window, awakening me far too early, as summer sunrises do. Covers over my head, I managed to fall back to sleep and get a couple more hours. Now, on this old porch, the sun is brilliantly reflecting off the water like a Joseph McGurl painting, shimmering into my eyes directly in front of me. The tick of the old Sessions clock from the living room fills my ears on this otherwise quiet morning. Birds frolic through the trees and there is complete stillness on the lake, the water barely moving. The first savory sip of my coffee is flavor-filled and glorious. If you close your eyes and take a sip, it makes a regular, mundane thing seem spectacular. Purging Paintings This morning my back is scolding me for abusing it yesterday as I moved stacks and stacks of old paintings out of storage in the boathouse into the old workshop, my new makeshift art studio. Since my mother’s passing and my goal to purge things

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Is Perfect Life Balance Possible?

Like black lace silhouetted against the bright sun, branches of delicate pine trees fill the view from the old screened-in octagon-shaped porch beside the lake. The shrieking yet soothing sound of loons crying out with melancholy melodies echoes off the faraway banks. I can faintly but clearly hear the voices of fishermen in the distance, yet I can barely make out their boat, suspended in the dense morning fog. History Continues Summertime has transported me to my muse … the lake in the vast Adirondack park, with its mountain views, deep forests, and a blanket of quiet. This porch was built in 1896, just 30 years after the Civil War. Over the last 123 years, this porch has shared its old, worn wicker rocking chairs with seven different families and their friends, some of whose descendants still live on this lake. Though the old wooden beadboard walls can’t talk, a treasury of old photos with notes and explanations tells the story of this camp, its owners, its old wooden boats, and buildings lost in fires, moved, reconstructed, and remodeled. The very chair I sit in, along with most of the furnishings, have passed from owner to owner, because they belong

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Seeking Lifetime Moments

The lake is still, reflecting like a giant mirror of rich blue cloud-filled morning sky. Cool air meeting the warmth of the water produces a thin layer of fog dangling over the glass, muting the colors of the dark forest greens and converting them to shades of blue gray. Ripples interrupt the stillness as the feet of a raptor swoop down to snatch up a small fish lingering right below the surface. In the distance a purple blue mountain hails from above, calling me to climb her.

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The Gift of Friendship

Trying to stay warm, I’m in my red flannel “buffalo check” pajamas. A fire is roaring in the old stone fireplace of this 100-year-old house. Above me, an “out of service” canoe, as old as the house, hangs from the rafters, displaying the beauty of its wooden slats and craftsmanship. The windows, fogged with mist, display the deep greens of the forest and old growth trees surrounding the house. Birds tweet feverishly, and the giant 600-year-old oak in the front is swaying to the breeze, while its branches reach out to cloak the entire cabin.

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Eric Rhoads
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