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lake.

In honor of Governor Bond Lake, where I’ll be spending this weekend for a Senior High Labor Day Retreat, an excerpt from one of my favorite books:

“The shore is irregular enough not to be monotonous.  I have in my minds’ eye the western indented with deep bays, the bolder northern, and the beautifully scolloped southern shore, where successive capes overlap each other and suggest unexplored coves between.  The forest has never so good a setting, nor is so distinctly beautiful, as when seen from the middle of a small lake amid hills which rise from the water’s edge; for the water in which it is reflected not only makes the best foreground in such a case, but, with its winding shore, the most natural and agreeable boundary to it…IMGP0704

…A lake is the landscapes most beautiful and expressive feature.  It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature.  The fluviatile trees next the shore are the slender eyelashes which fringe it, and the wooded hills and cliffs around are its overhanging brows.

Standing on the smooth sandy beach at the east end of the pond, in a calm September afternoon, when a slight haze makes the opposite shore line indistinct, I have seen whence came the expression, “the glassy surface of a lake.”  When you invert your head, it looks like a thread of finest gossamer stretched across the valley, and gleaming against the distant pine woods, separating one stratum of the atmosphere from another.  You would think that you could walk dry under it to the opposite hills, and that the swallows that skim over might perch on it.  Indeed, they sometimes dive below the line, as it were by mistake, and are undeceived.  As you look over the pond westward you are obliged to employ both your hands to defend your eyes against the reflected as well as the true sun, for they are equally bright; and if, between the two, you survey its surface critically, it is literally as smooth as glass, except where the skater insects, at equal intervals scattered over its whole extent, by their motions in the sun produce the finest imaginable sparkle on it, or, perchance, a duck plumes itself, or, as I have said, a swallow skims so low as to touch it.  It may be that in the distance a fish describes an arc of three or four feet in the air, and there is one bright flash where it emerges, and another where it strikes the water; sometimes the whole silvery arc is revealed; or here and there, perhaps, is a thistle-down floating on its surface, which the fishes dart at and so dimple it again.  It is like molten glass cooled but not congealed, and the few motes in it are pure and beautiful like imperfections in glass.  You may often detect a yet smoother and darker water, separated from the rest as if by invisible cobweb, boom of the water nymphs, resting on it.  From a hilltop you can see a fish leap in almost any part; for not a pickerel or shiner picks an insect from this smooth surface but it manifestly disturbs the equilibrium of the whole lake.  It is wonderful with what elaborateness this simple fact is advertised – this piscine murder will out, – and from my distant perch I distinguish the circling undulations when they are half a dozen rods in diameter.  You can even detect a water-bug ceaselessly progressing over the smooth surface a quarter of a mile off, for they furrow the water slightly, making a conspicuous ripple bounded by two diverging lines, but the skaters glide over it without rippling it perceptibly.  When the surface is considerably agitated there are no skaters nor water-bugs on it, but apparently, in calm days, they leave their havens and adventurously glide forth from the shore by short impulses till they completely cover it.  It is a soothing employment, on one of those fine days in the fall when the warmth of the sun is fully appreciated, to sit on a stump on such a height as this, overlooking the pond, and study the dimpling circles which are incessantly inscribed on its otherwise invisible surface amid the reflected skies and trees.  Over this great expanse there is no disturbance but it is thus at once gently smoothed away and assuaged, as, when a vase of water is jarred, the trembling circles seek the shore and all is smooth again.  Not a fish can leap or an insect fall on the pond but it is thus reported in circling dimples, in lines of beauty, as it were the constant welling up of its fountain, the gentle pulsing of its life, the heaving of its breast.  The thrills of joy and thrills of pain are undistinguishable.  How peaceful the phenomena of the lake!  Again the works of man shine as in the spring.  Ay; every leaf and twig and stone and cobweb sparkles now at mid-afternoon as when covered with dew in a spring morning.  Every motion of an oar or an insect produces a flash of light; and if an oar falls, how sweet the echo!” – Henry David Thoreau, Walden

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changing streets.

I’m still getting used to it.

I grew up living most of my life on M-50.  That stands for “Michigan-50”, as in a “high-way”.  We had a large front lawn, so don’t imagine it so close to the road the truckers could throw their drinks at my window.  But do imagine cars and trucks whizzing by at 60+ MPH while we waited for our bus at the end of the driveway.   Much of the school year in coooold Michigander temperatures.  It was awesome.  Stars seemed they were always visible.clintontrail

We knew our immediate neighbors.  We rode our bikes for hours up and down our driveway (Not to brag, but it was the only one nearby that was completely paved).  In high school, we were robbed by the senior higher who lived a few doors down from us.  We watched the fire department accidentally drive through a closed door, and every so often a traveling group of Indians would set up their teepees in the field across the highway.  In the 20 minutes we waited for the bus, often we pretended we were Ninja Turtles (I was usually Michaelangelo, because I love eating pizza and saying “Dude”.  He was usually Leonardo, because he’s a natural leader and genius.) before we hopped on the bus for the 1.5 hour trek around horror-movie-inspiring cornfields picking up all the other students who lives “outside of town”.  You could say it was a pretty normal place to live.

I remember when our city, Eaton Rapids, was about to have it’s very own McDonald’s restaurant open.  The excitement was building for months as we saw the holy structure take form.  The date was set for opening.    It was only about 1.4 miles away, but it was 1.4 miles of M-50.  Intimidating?  Nah.  My older brother was with me.  Plus…we wanted to be among the first to taste the amazing goodness that was fast food, and enjoy the coming-of-age experience of a bike ride to food without adults.

It was a pretty great place to grow.  I’m thankful for it.

Where I live now is more an Avenue than highway.

If a car comes down the cobblestone street going faster than 15 MPH, I stand up and give them my stern-serious look.  If we 1383595_10151693986116339_1342514859_nforget sour cream, we can run out to get it and be back in a few minutes.   Our kids play together.  We celebrate holidays together, and call the cops on each other. (Lovingly, of course.)  There are streetlamps on both sides of our street, straight out of some old-time movie.   If the kids on our street aren’t homeschooled, they can walk down the block to school each morning.

It’s still a bit new to me, this living in closer community.  Where we could walk most places we need to get to within an easy stroll.  Trick-or-Treat season finds mini-vans from all over the city dropping off a load of kids to wander around begging sugar from door-to-door.  We share a water provider, and a sewer system.  It’s a pretty intimate deal. Much of this might simply be adult-hood, but I know the names of most of the families up and down both sides of my street.  We pray for them.  We hope that somehow God’s Love will be known and experienced by the ways that we connect in relationship…whether they know Him already or not.  We draw with sidewalk chalk and play hop scotch and wave at the elderly man who grows herbs in his basement year-round (legal ones).

You can’t always see the stars very well.

But the people sure are great.