Month: August 2020

Thoughts and Things – moving on

Water – log:  8/16/year 3  – It has been a long time since I’ve written. Why is that? I have been here several times with the kayak, yet didn’t write.  Friends from work came for an overnight in June and we talked and laughed late into the night.  An out of town friend flew in last week.  We beaded bracelets and watch bands and chili pepper earrings!  A visit to Fort William Henry was cut short by the daunting heat.   A lunch cruise on lake George was followed by a short hike to the top of Prospect Mountain.  The adventures ended with a visit to the famous ‘Martha’s’ for ice cream.  Then a local friend came up for two full days. We went to Homestyle Restaurant the first night, had breakfast the next day at the Chicken Diner with the 20 foot white chicken standing guard in the parking lot, and then grilled vegetables and turkey burgers later.  Between meals we visited antique shops and yard sales and had ice cream – twice! It has been fun. But last night I relaxed in my aloneness, and today I am supposed to be preparing for renters.  Yet here I am sitting in the kayak in the middle of the lake.  I do love being alone for a while on the water.  It brings me such inner peace – more than anything else I can think of.  I crave that feeling – don’t find it often, no matter how I try, even with yoga.                                                  

I started doing evaluations at a new agency this summer and will finish in two weeks.   It has been very stressful.  I’m starting to wonder if the stress I feel at work is more about how I approach work than the work itself.  I always feel pressured to go above and beyond ‘good enough’ at work – maybe in other places too.  I am realizing how driven I really am.  It is so difficult for me to relax.  I want to stop, but haven’t discovered how – yet.  What is it am I driven towards? Or maybe from?

Water – log:  4/22/year 4 – Been here since Thursday around noon. Two trips out in kayak before this one – first trips of the year – felt great. This morning was colder, overcast, promising rain – so I jumped into the kayak for one last trip.  I crawled slowly around the edge of the lake where the water remained shallow – I have not seen another person at any of the condos.  It was brisk, my hands were chilled, but the overcast sky and wind added their own sense of adventure to the trip -especially when the wind blew hard! I felt like I was battling the wind yet a part of the wind all at the same time! I sat and watched the heron near the swampy outlet – it stood so still, then flew away.  I wanted to spread my wings and let the air lift me away with it! The clouds suddenly became dark and I started to head for the shore. Then I heard the tinkling of tiny bells all around me. I scanned the area, confused, doubting my ears when I couldn’t locate a source.  I noticed the smooth surface of the lake was covered with spots, then felt the drops lightly stinging the skin on my hands – tiny ice crystals bounced off the my body and the boat, creating the sound as they broke the surface of the water.  It was nature’s pure music.  Quiet, gentle distinct ‘plinks’ surrounded me, many hitting at the same time, striking an array of notes – like being inside of a chime machine.  It lasted only minutes, then disappeared with the returning sun. I made my way to shore, and stood in wonder after exiting, feeling like I had just come from a dream, almost unsure that it had even happened.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            


Moving on:    I paddled around the lake many times, often more than once a day.  An affinity grew with the herons that stood with such quiet stillness, the sunfish tending their eggs in concave beds in the shallow waters along the shore, the water bugs with long legs skidding along the surface.  Then there were the clever beavers.  I could sometimes catch an extended glimpse of one from the tiny sandy ‘beach’ early in the morning or late in the evening – the nose, eyes and forehead just breaking the surface as it sped across the lake to the dam, propelled by a large body with powerful legs and tail hidden beneath.  On the water my paddle alerted them to my presence, leaving only the slap of their tail and ripples in the water behind.                                                                                                                                                                                              

The lake became a comfort zone, allowing me to see, hear and feel things I never had before.  It was a blessing at the same time that it also took me away from my family. My teenage daughter once stated that I was never home and that her friends asked why I was away so much.  I had not realized that anyone cared whether I was home or not, certainly my husband didn’t, and my son was already in college.  But I had left her in my quest to find a place to find myself.  I stopped making so many trips north.                                                                                                                                         

During the fourth year circumstances pushed both my co-owner and I to put the condo up for sale. We made a little money on it, enough for Ron and I to put a down payment on a small rundown camp on the Mohawk River, much closer to home.  It provided another way to connect with the world as experienced from my kayak.

            I went back to see the lake I had loved so much only once after that, and although I knew the time for running away from my life at home needed to come to an end, I missed the quiet times on the water there.

Thoughts and Things – part 3

Water – log: 8/31/ second year– This beautiful day finds me back in the middle of the lake again. The summer has been filled with heavy thunder storms – more than I can ever remember being aware of before.  Is it the awareness or the storms that has increased?  This is my second ‘alone’ day here and I am settling into the quiet.  My mind has been crowded with thoughts, ideas, and revelations this past year.  I welcome the quiet time to contemplate and digest it all – or at least to start.  I am so fortunate to have many wonderful friends around me.  One has been walking by my side despite the distance between us, and knows just what I mean when I talk about a new or strange incident or synchronicity.  Another is always open to exploration, wondering and wonderment, and the connections between it all.  And yet another seems full of wisdom from her own life experiences, and is good at listening and hearing what I am trying so hard to explain to myself.  This journey would be much harder without their company and loving friendship.    

I allowed my kayak to float at the will of the wind and currents, and have landed back where I started so I paddled to the middle again.  A deep sigh has escaped from my lungs several times –a sign I have come to recognize as giving in to relaxation and release.  Now I’ve ended up in the weeds at one end of the lake, the drifting halted by long thin stems anchored in the earth beneath the water; grounding me. I am beginning to feel more grounded in my life –but my feet are not solidly rooted yet. I still need a gentle tug to catch me when I start drifting.  Perhaps one day I will have my feet on the ground while also reaching for the sky and swaying with the wind and water.                   

Water – log: 9/2/ – I woke at 6:30 AM and decided to do an early morning paddle in the mist that hid even the nearby shore.  I’ve wanted to do this for some time, but was fearful of something I couldn’t quite name – maybe the resemblance to the shadows in the woods of my childhood?  Heart thumping, I pushed off into the lake and slowly paddled down one side of the small section to the left.  Despite limited vision, familiarity encouraged me forward.  It was quiet, no sound, no view beyond my boat.  I barely moved my paddle through the water, drifting, only directing movement to avoid limbs of fallen trees. The rising rays of the sun tugged at the mist, slowly lifting it from the surface as I floated.  A sense of contentment moved outward from my body, into the boat, through the boat, into the water and the rocks and the dirt and the trees.  I could distinguish every individual item that surrounded me, but boundaries between us melted.  I existed as myself, but also as everything else, encompassed in peace, truly understanding – feeling – the concept of ‘oneness’ for the first time, as surroundings stretched into infinity.  The limitations of words cannot communicate the expansiveness of the experience.  As I became conscious of the sensation it slid away as quickly as it had engulfed me.  I tried to reenter the state, but trying seemed to close the door.  I had floated into another dimension of perception, one never crossed into before, one I could not control with intention.                    I started paddling towards the beaver dam in hopes of catching a glimpse as they take their morning trip across the lake.  Approaching, drifting quietly, I scanned but didn’t see.  I dipped my paddle, just once, and heard the loud thwap of tail on water behind me, warning others while escaping from view.  I sat quietly for a while longer, hoping for a resurfacing, but to no avail.  I continued to paddle the small lake, so familiar yet full of surprises.  The sun continues to rise as I sit and write. The lake is a perfect mirror of the surroundings, the reflections somehow even more vivid than the real.   My face is settled into a smile this morning, I think of Carol King’s song Beautiful  – “you’ve got to wake up every morning with a smile on your face and show the world all the love in your heart….” I paddle to the other end and see the blue heron, still as can be as I slip by.

Water – log: 9/6/ (labor day) – Ron, Tyra, Chester (our bull dog), Blue (our long haired white cat) and I have all been at the lake since Saturday – a record stay!  It has been overcast and chilly – still beautiful to me, but I’m afraid it will cloud the memory of this trip for everyone else.  Ron only brought shorts and T shirts – we were supposed to hike today, but it is too cold for just shorts and T shirt right now. Maybe it will warm up later. I am of course in the middle of the lake. I saw the heron again – it feels like a friend, comforting to see it where I hoped it might be –perched so elegantly on a fallen tree parallel to the shore –as still as a branch, and the same color. The beauty of hundreds of vignettes – nature’s compositions – strikes me deeply today.  I would love to photograph them all, yet realize I could not catch the full beauty because much of it is within me, the feelings provoked by it all. I am thankful for the awakening of the ability to see and appreciate so many simple things in my surroundings. I can’t seem to get enough.                                                              To be continued…..

Thoughts and Things – part 2

**The following are a continuation of entries from my notebook of thoughts, written while on the water, my water- logs!                                              

Water – log: 7/3/second year at condo – Wow, it’s been a while and so much has happened.  I left my job last week -after 17 years.   It was another stressful year, and just time to move on! It hasn’t really hit me yet.  I suspect relief and sadness are both swimming silently below the surface, like the beavers here, waiting to slap their tails in warning if I get too close.  I am not ready to examine all the emotions attached to leaving yet, easier to believe it was about the job than drag the darker truths about me into view.  The first week of ‘freedom’ was difficult, so hard to find a focus, overwhelmed with so many things that needed doing! Where to start??  Mental mayhem started on a slow road towards stillness around Thursday, but a long trip remains ahead.                                                                                                                                                     

Mom and dad came up to join me here.  Ron is at a softball tournament in Syracuse with our daughter.  Our son is in Long Island visiting his girlfriend.  We are scattered in so many different directions.  I never see Ron.  He is always on the run to softball or golf or endless ‘meetings’.  I am alone and lonely.  I know the kids are slowly loosening the ties that bind them to us to make room to explore new attachments.  I also know the ties are loosened but not severed, and that we will form different bonds as they grow.  But that is not the story with Ron.  Our connections have been unraveling for a long time.  I do not want to spend my life entwined in the responsibilities of a marriage yet constantly spend my time alone.  I told him before he left on Friday to decide if he wanted to be my companion – and to let me know.  Some alone time is not a problem, I have many interests and opportunities that do not require a partner, but I also want a companion, at least part of the time.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                     Water – log: 7/6/ – 8:30 AM  – I am in the middle of the lake – overcast and peaceful.  Oddly enough, clarity seems to peek through the haze of the clouds, breeding calmness and easing the pace of things.   A few people are fishing from shore or in small boats.  I am drifting towards the beaver dam end of the lake today.  Drifting usually takes me in the other direction, but the gentle wind must be stronger than the opposing current.  Bird songs fill the air.  My friend/co-owner joined us late on Sunday – said she needed to be away.  The condo is not just my escape hatch!  We had a peaceful Fourth of July.  My father went fishing while we took a trip to the ice cream store with my mother.  Later we grilled burgers and corn coated in mayo and cayenne pepper, followed by marshmallows toasted over the remaining coals and squished between graham crackers and chocolate.  My parents had never had s’mores before!  Fireworks crackled through the distant air while a lively game of dominoes ended our evening.                                                                                                                           

Peaceful moments were interrupted the next morning when my friend received a call from home – her daughter hit someone in a crosswalk last night.  The person walked away and did not appear hurt, but now phone calls filled with worry and concern crackle across the distance.    


Water – log: 7/7 – My parents left early today to avoid traffic.  My friend and I headed to one of the large steam boat rides on Lake George – in search of calm.  Threatening clouds promised and delivered a thunderstorm while we were on the water.  We sat outside on the boat, protected from the wind and rain under a deep overhang, watching with fascination as we passed through the storm.   A bright hot sun and clear blue skies quickly replaced the clouds.  We followed up the boat ride with a trip to the arcade shooting gallery in town, maybe imagining other targets for the ducks that entered our sights!  The roar of the storm, along with the rumble of our conversation and the release of laughter as we aimed our air rifles, eased the worry.  My friend headed home to assess the extent of damage done – both physical and psychological.  She seems to be facing endless challenges these days, a divorce, a close friend’s death, and now this mishap with her daughter. Yet she appears to be doing OK, overwhelmed for sure, but still able to handle it somehow.  I have such admiration for her – always have. She is one tough lady, but stays caring and thoughtful. And usually seems able to pull laughter and love to the top of the heap!  Knowing her has made a huge impact on my life, a very positive one that has helped me live in a better way.

Just saw a little turtle perched on a lily pad! I’m in the weeds now – time to paddle!                                                                                                                            

Water – log: 8/30 – I am finally back at the condo.  Rentals have been abundant – a good thing! But I have missed time on the lake.  Ron came up with our daughter and her friend.  The girls went for a swim before we headed out to eat, and then sequestered themselves in their room to gab and giggle the night away.  Ron and I sat outside for a while, skimming across the surface of troubles as if they didn’t exist – like the long legged water bugs striding swiftly across the lake without sinking into the depths below.  Everyone left early this morning, Ron off to golf and the girls to their busy social life at home – a token visit of less than 24 hours!                          

Alone again, I felt edgy as I transitioned from crazy to calm, unsettled, not quite sure which way to go.  I went online for a bit, then ate, then decided to strip wallpaper from the half bathroom – a task I’ve been avoiding all year.  I worked quite a while, got it all removed, cleaned up, then went upstairs to shower before going out to buy wallpaper border and new lights.  I glanced at my watch – without glasses – and thought it read 2:30.  Not as late as I thought it would be.  I rested briefly then went downstairs to get ready to go and glanced at the clock – which read 6:45!!  Looked at my watch – 6:45!  Could still not believe it so I went upstairs to check that clock – yep, 6:45.  A time warp?  How could I have been so far off the correct time?  Skies cloaked in gray clouds had disguised changes in the light outside, but I had no idea it was that late!  A stinging reminder of how often I underestimate the time it takes to do things – an ongoing challenge in my time management skills!  Decided errands could wait until tomorrow.  There was just enough time to take a paddle on the ‘puddle’ before nightfall!                                              

The remaining light is dim. I stay close to the shore. The water is still.  Wildlife is silent.  The stroke of the paddle releases time from nature’s equation.                                                                         To be continued……

Thoughts and Things – part 1

            Sitting quietly in my kayak while floating on the lake, my thoughts often drifted into unexplored territory.  I found a small notepad and a short pencil to tuck inside the wire spiral – a perfect fit for the mesh pocket on my life jacket, ready to record moments of interest or simple contemplation.   

7/11/first year at condo – I am surrounded by yellow water lilies; a nice breeze is taking the kayak where it pleases.  Yesterday at a craft fair I found a woman making wonderful fabric art.  I felt an immediate connection and a surge of creativity.  We talked for a while and I took her card, maybe I can contact her to come join a few friends and me to make art together!  It felt good to feel excited and alive.  I can feel the cloud that has surrounded my heart, placed there when what I thought was a close friend ‘disowned’ me, lifting away.  The confusion, loss and grief will always be there, but I won’t continue to let it rule my daily emotions!  True joy is raising its wings as I sit here serenely on the water, moving only by the forces of nature.  I long to share this with her, we have talked about such things so many times.  But I will share it with others instead, or just relish it by myself.

I talked with another friend earlier – so full of energy and life.  She just bought herself a bike, sent for a catalog for programs at the Chautauqua Institute, and may come visit me at the lake in a week.  I am so excited about this possibility!  Yesterday I made up a song as I drove here in the car, about the lost friendship, and sang it over and over:                                                                                                                                  

I refuse to be accused,
By the world or by you!
I don't need diamonds and gold,
just give me water and wood.
You say I don't appreciate all I have,
but you only refer to monetary goods.
It seems you will never understand that
they don't bring the joy you feel they should.
The security they must afford
seems clear and understood;
but I am living a good life
and know I only need water and wood.
You've cast aside my loving care,
and feel I've never understood
the choices you "can't" share
because your early life was not good.
But you don't understand who I am,
and how I came to be.
I doubt you will ever be able to see
how I came to be me.

8/2 – It rained all day yesterday, plus I was working on getting the condo ready for our first real renters. It was cloudy this morning and I had plans to finish the headboards, but then decided to wrap things up and go kayaking instead.  The sun was out briefly.  I saw the field of purple flowers growing on the lake for the first time – sat in the middle of them, surrounded by bumble bees hard at work.  I’ve seen seven fish swim by and heard the beaver’s tail slap its warning.  The water is crystal clear today – almost feels unreal.  This is the best time at the lake – Saturday after 10 and before 4 – renters are gone, everything is so quiet, including my brain right now – an incredible rarity! No more writing.                                                                         

8/30 – This may be the most beautiful day on the water yet, sunny and warm but not hot, blue sky, and a friend in the canoe next to me to talk to. I can see the bottom so clearly, so far out, and lots of BIG fish near the large swimming area, close to shore.  I love the paddling – moving meditation – but also love just sitting on the quiet water.  Not much wind today, but I am slowly spinning in a circle as I sit and write.  We hiked almost to Inman pond yesterday – over 6 miles – but we started late and were concerned it would get dark before we finished, so we turned back.  It was a great hike.   My legs feel it today, but I slept more soundly last night than I have in many weeks.  Maybe I just need more exercise to get through the sleeping difficulties I’ve been having lately.  I feel so calm out here – I wish I could collect and store this feeling to use when I’m stressed.  Visualization?  School starts in two days.  I’m feeling like it will be better.  It was so tough this summer and all last year.   I need to find a peaceful place in my head and heart for work.  I can’t repeat the level of stress I felt last year.  I am convinced it will make me sick to keep running at that rate.  I keep saying I need to start my day with yoga – maybe just a centering activity to help me start the day.  I will try again to do it (that ‘try’ word is there – can’t I just do it?) – just BREATHE!   I want to stay out here on the lake forever today!   I am so thankful I have the opportunity to be here.  I can’t wait to share it with others.  I really enjoy the neighbors a few doors down too. It has been great getting to know them.                                                                                                                                                To be continued…..