This week I headed north for a month, and I have Covid to thank. My daughter and her family are living in my house while they finish renovating theirs. With the grandkids back to school and day care, my daughter and I agreed it was best if we weren’t under the same roof.
I imagined my time away variously—exile, vacation, retreat, adventure. In any of those scenarios, I had plans. Plans to start another writing project. Plans to catch fish. Plans to read a lot and bike on the Paul Bunyan Trail. Plans to try my hand at water color, thanks to a friend who supplied me with all the materials and a link to an online class. Plans to cook all my meals. No wonder my car was full.
Finally, I turned off the highway, 3 miles to go. As we used to do for our retriever Indie, I opened the windows and breathed in the pine-scented air. He knew when we were close. The old excitement was there, along with the anticipation for all that this place holds.
This is the lake Chris and I vacation on for some 20 years. We discovered it one summer while at Gull Lake. Lake Hubert was more our size, and fishing was good. It became our lake, and cabin 3 our cabin.
When I called to see if I could come for a month, the resort owner told me he’d just sold the place as individual cabins. He referred me to the resort owner next door, who had a cabin I could rent for as long as I needed.
And so here I am, with a slightly off-centered view of the lake from the table where I write this. Still, a view I never tire of. In a different cabin, but no less cozy. A cold front has sent the fish deep, made them lethargic, so no fishing for awhile. The stack of books and magazines remains a stack. I don’t quite know where to start.
Old routines become, eventually, old. At first I tried to transition as if I were here for one precious week. I wanted every minute to count. But my mind resisted. I slept long and hard, then napped. I stared out the window. I let the memories of past trips surface, feeling both tender and melancholy. Finally, I gave in to the pull of this place. I would need to learn how to fall in love with Lake Hubert all over again.
It’s been 7 years since I’ve been here, and that was to scatter Chris’s ashes. It’s been 10 years since Chris and I made our last trip here together. One evening we sat at the end of the dock with our gin and tonics and he predicted he would live to age 70. I believed him.
This year he would have turned 70. So when I go to the lake, he will be there. He’ll be in the gleam of a boat caught in last light against the far shore. He’ll be in the panoramic eye of the eagle as it drafts overhead. He’ll be in the call of the loons. He’ll be in the water, where his ashes have added layer to the earth.
This lake is our wild and sacred place, reminding me of the importance of loving where we are and who we’re with.