On most mornings around here in the Adirondacks, if you get up early enough, there is a light fog on the lake that doesn’t lift until the sun makes its presence known. On a drizzly morning like today, the fog is thicker, which makes for beautiful photographs and paintings. After this, if there is time, I may attempt one or the other.
In the distance I can barely make out a green sailboat, muted in color by the fog, the mast popping out of the fog with a tinge of sunlight hitting it, and a foggy reflection in the water.
The cry of a loon flying overhead is an unusual sound. Though typically in the water, I’ve seen more flying this year than ever, making me wonder if they plan to fly further north for cooler weather. Other than that, the lake is pure silence, so much so that a voice across the lake from someone chatting and drinking their coffee is perfectly clear. It’s another good reason to never talk about the neighbors.
So Little Time
This, the last Sunday of July, is a stark reminder of how rapidly summer passes and how little time remains. There are mountains to climb, paintings to finish, family outings to get done before I return to the crazy life I lead once the kids return to school to start their sophomore year and get their driver’s licenses.
A Tradition We’ve Never Missed
Soon, we’ll take our annual canoe picture. We try to do it toward the end of the summer because the kids tend to change so much from the beginning to the end of each summer. It’s a tradition I started when they were four months old, sitting them in a canoe in front of the lake with the view of the mountain in the background. We’ve never missed a year. Though it’s unlikely they will continue that tradition in this camp, with this view, wouldn’t it be nice if they made a point to do it every year for the rest of their lives? I love tradition.
A New Game
Siblings, as you know, have moments when they don’t get along. At this age, as they find themselves, everything tends to be annoying to them. Yet when we get up here, once they get relaxed, they begin to interact on a different level, and eventually start to play together. This week they invented a game they call Boo Bee, where they use canoe paddles to hit a ball to one another. Last night one of the neighbor kids came over to play along. They are unknowingly creating memories they will remember their entire lives.
A Cow Apron? Really?
Earlier this week Laurie decided we should have dinner out by the old lean-to, way in the back of the yard at the edge of the old growth forest. We sat around the campfire as we ate our dinner. My dad said, “They won’t remember all our family dinners together, but they’ll remember this.” So true. We’ll do a meal or stories in the old teepee, and breakfast in a tiny cabin we call the trapper cabin, which has an old wood stove and is barely big enough for us all to fit. My dad puts on his old cow apron and his leather trapper hat, and makes us all breakfast in a cast iron skillet. And Tuesdays around here have become “Taco Tuesdays,” when our neighbors from Arizona come over and cook Mexican food. They and some other neighbors will gather, casually. It’s a good excuse to get together.
What matters is that we’re together. I cherish these times, knowing that soon the birds will leave the nest, off to flight school. Though not all the family can be here, they come when they can, and we reconnect, catch up, and have no agenda other than sitting on the dock and relaxing.
Dreams Worth Doing
From the moment school lets out till it starts again, we spend the entire summer here. Though I still put in eight- or 10-hour days, my evenings are spent in a boat or on the dock. Years ago I realized I loved summers here so much that I wanted to spend more time. Some summers I have not made it at all, some just a week or less. So I spent about 10 years sowing the seeds that allowed me to operate from here.
That meant making a lot of changes in the structure of my business. It was a giant hassle and took years to get to the point where I could do it, but the reason I do it is because it’s so important in my life. It’s my number one thing because it’s different from time with family at home in our busy lives. It forces us to reconnect, gives us a chance to play, to be in a different place, with no pressures.
I did not know I wanted it until I had the chance to do it, thanks to the hard work my father put in to make it happen. So it’s my new goal to continue the tradition, here or elsewhere.
Looking back, I realize this place, this idea of being together as a family, had become my top priority. I work hard so I can be here in the summer.
Have you given thought to your top priority?
Nothing Comes Easy
This did not happen overnight, for my dad or me. I watched him work unbelievably hard and struggle for decades, and I too struggled for decades. Nothing comes easy. Yet if you’re focused on your goals and you want something badly enough, it will happen if you dedicate the energy and time and make the commitment.
Which Ship Are You?
There are two kinds of ships. First, there are those at drift at sea, that float to wherever the waves take them. Sometimes they get grounded in the sand and stay there forever, sometimes they hit the rocks, and on occasion they get to another shore. The other kind of ship follows a chart, knows exactly where it is going. Engines are running, pushing the boat forward, with constant course corrections.
Chances are you won’t get there without knowing where you want to be. I’m only able to be here because it was the destination on my chart, and remains important to my family.
What is your destination? What is your top priority?
It won’t be easy to get there. It will take a lot of time, effort, energy, and toil. There will be moments of frustration and failure. But if you keep your eye on the destination and keep the engines engaged, you will arrive.
This might be a good day to set a destination and start working on a chart.
I’ll leave you with this…
Everything good you want to do in your life life may seem daunting and impossible. Dreams may seem impossible, but if they are dreams, they are what you were put on this earth to chase. Chase them with vigor. But you’ll get there faster with a plan, and when you break things into small, simple steps, it makes everything seem a lot easier to accomplish.
Go make your dreams happen. You deserve them.