We’re very lucky, our family. We live on a lake, and enjoy all the seasons here (most especially the summer). Our days are spent in the rhythms of nature – gorgeous sunrises, color-streaked skies at sunset, foggy mornings, windy days, calm, still evenings. We are in touch with wildlife – herons stalk by, seeking a meal; a wedge of swans dining out front (our daughter calls it the Lakeside All You Can Eat Buffet); kingfishers diving for their meals; seagulls perching on the neighbor’s raft (and leaving plenty of fish bones and detritus); an eagle soaring; muskrats swimming by at dusk; fishermen in all seasons plying their fishing rods in search of their own meals.
Fall brings gorgeous colors reflected in the water. In the depths of winter, we clear a space out front and skate, listen to the deep thrums of the ice – sounding like whales, fly kites on windy days on the wide open space of the frozen lake, and sled down the hill and onto the ice, going much farther than expected. Spring comes, and when the ice breaks, we hear a day of tinkling chimes as the pieces of ice clink against each other before melting, and we kayak through, playing icebreakers.
In summer, our daughter plays with the weekenders (for it is mostly weekenders, that have houses here – very few fulltime residents like us) – she and her best friends go tubing, catch frogs and do a frog Olympics, paddleboat, kayak, and of course, swim. I’m in charge of swimming with the girls, since I swim 3-4 times a day. We swim through the lilypads (which are protected by law) and out to the buoys, which we name for different cities around the world each summer. This summer, our buoys were designated as Athens and Alexandria. It was a much shorter swim for us than if we’d done it in real life, in real distances!
While others plan their travels for the summer, we plan our travels for the rest of the year. For it seems that summer is one long season of bliss, of pure joy, of endless days spent pursuing the things we love most – swimming, playing with friends, eating well, kayaking, sailing, having campfires and roasting marshmallows. I don’t want to leave for even one minute – we’re having such fun.
But tear myself away, I do. For we are doubly lucky, to have ANOTHER lake house – a family cottage up north. My great-grandfather built it, and for my whole life, it’s been a place of home, safety, and good times with family and friends. It is here where I learned to fish, and also learned a useful life philosophy: “you catch, you clean!” It is here where I spent countless hours waterskiing, windsurfing, going on paddleboat rides with my brother and cousins and looking for huge clams, finding baby turtles and having races, enjoying sunsets, telling the same stories my grandma told me about Bobbie Bird to my own daughter. We kayak, pontoon, swim, create feasts, laugh.
For if I must tear myself away from our lake home and the idyllic pleasures that surround us, where better to go than another lake home – where life is a little more rustic, it’s definitely a digital detox, and the memories surround me, even as we create more. For the constants – the love of the people there with you, peach ice cream, swimming, raking fall leaves, laughing, card games, cooking together – are another sign of home. And to have two lake homes, well, then we’re doubly lucky. And, I’ll plan travel for cold winter months, when I can bear to leave.
Dr. Jessie Voigts is a mom who loves sharing the world with her daughter. She has a PhD in International Education, and is constantly looking for ways to increase intercultural understanding, especially with kids (it’s never too young to start!). She has lived and worked in Japan and London, and traveled around the world. Jessie is the publisher of Wandering Educators, a travel library for people curious about the world. She founded the Family Travel Bloggers Association, and the Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program. She’s published two books about travel and intercultural learning, with several more on Moving to Southeast Asia on the way. You can usually find her family by water – anywhere in the world.
All photos courtesy and copyright Jessie Voigts.