I've just come back from a few days visiting my father, during which I stayed alone at the lake house. He came up during the days and we worked together to get the property ready for him to move back there with his girlfriend this summer. For me, it was a wonderful retreat from city life, combining some good hard outdoor work with a chance to enjoy the solitude of the natural world, and seeing a few friends. As it turned out, I had some rather startling encounters with other creatures -- but that story will be told later!
In the mornings I got up early and took my breakfast down by the shoreline. There were birds singing; chipmunks scurrying; sunfish, bass, and carp basking in the shallows. The three mornings were all different; one day the lake was completely still, another breezy, another foggy. At night I went out on the deck to look at the stars, and slept with the bedroom door open, listening to the frogs and insects. It was just what I'd needed, and worth the long drive back and forth through the Adirondacks and the Mohawk Valley.
My dad is doing really well. At 89, he's planning to compete in table tennis in the New York State Senior Games next weekend in Cortland, and though he's got some stiffness in his legs, seems to be functioning well on his replacement knees and hip. I sure hope I inherited those particular genes; he inspires me to stay as active and limber as I can.
My dad and me at the lake about thirty years ago, in the 1980s.
Staying in the house my parents built also has its sadnesses and strangeness; not much has changed and there are so many reminders of my mother, without her actual presence. I wouldn't say it feels "comforting;" it doesn't. I can't help but wonder how much longer my dad will be able to take care of the house, but I'm glad he still can, and wants to. Of course, these realities make me constantly aware that I'm getting older too. But the sadness doesn't have a sharp edge anymore, nor does my fear of the future. Even rock becomes smoothed by time, and nature, the great teacher, accepts each day in turn.