Sittin’ Pretty

Our family legacy property is just a speck on any map. Even on the map of its own location, it’s just a speck.

Just 30′ at its deepest, and nine miles of lakeshore, its 1200 acres are but a speck on the surface of the planet. Like the flakes of endogenous mica glinting in the sand, however, it winks brightly to the seer.

Golden Days

Trade sidewalks for lakeshore and game trails; it is summer camp for adults. Today my footsteps were falling on deer prints wherever I walked. There’s a well worn path along the bay, in front of cabins and through the woods that serve as side yards. Neighbors sashay in front of each others’ cabins, en route to some casual destination. Visiting along the way is part of the charm.

Cottages wear names like boats. Sittin’ Pretty, On the Rocks, This’ll Do, Tarry A While, Steele Away, Packed Inn, Fairhaven, Rustic Retreat, Rosebank, Wildwood and more… Our neck of the woods is Diana Bay, so named by early property owner of the Tanglewood area, a teacher Miss Bertha Elizabeth Archer (later Windust), after the Italian goddess of the forest and the moon. It’s served as a safe haven for six generations of mothers during the summer holidays. Earlier families (including mine) would routinely come to their summer cottage the day after school let out and not return to town until the day after Labor Day. Nowadays many cabins in our bay are shared amongst the family who have dispersed with time, and folks will come back just once or maybe twice for their week share. This summer was special: cabins were continuously in use, seeing higher traffic than usual, since this semi-secluded bay is a perfect place to quarantine.

While on maternity leave, I wished to invoke the bygone era of free range kids steeped in family, nature, and community friendships. My kids and I came to stay at Point Petite with my parents (primarily my mother) for two and a half months, leaving only a few times—for visiting family or picking blueberries. As summer and our stay nears its end, we reluctantly say goodbye to this special place and this unique experience. We are truly blessed for all the nurturing we have received, and the jokes and excitement we have shared.

Ponder Inn

Lady Kitty has contentedly spent a third of her life here and has grown strong, vigorous and happy in the fresh air. Today she sat up solidly on her own for the first time. Digging in the sand, eating ponderosa pine needles, sucking on a rock, she was delightedly sittin’ pretty!

Sittin’ Pretty

A humongous bucket of gratitude is owed to my parents for making this possible: graciously hosting us through thick and thin, storms and smoke, coparenting and toddlers. My kids are thriving here and are richer for having spent this time with their grandparents. A perfect season, I’m glad I spent it here with you.

Spreading Joy

Lake described a new game to us today.

Take a plastic rock. (Like a plastic Easter egg that opens, he clarified.)

Fill it with slips of paper that say “joy” on them.

Take a mullein stalk, like Verbascum thapsus, or other long plant stem.

Hit the plastic rock with the mullein stalk.

Watch the papers of joy spray out everywhere.

Spread joy.

Mari Kondo sparks joy; Lake spreads joy.

Holy Smoke

Priests’ Point enshrouded in wildfire smoke on Saturday

All is calm. All is bright. No fish are jumping. No stars are shining. Only the Canada geese are honking loudly and sqabbling over quickly vacated docks by day. The coyotes yip and sing mournfully by night. The cottages and the beaches from all the bays are empty; even the fishermen are hunkered down. Everyone went back into town, or packed up early cutting their holidays short. No wind blows; It’s eerily still. The eagles keep watch; I know where to find them quietly observing. Even the water is suddenly clear; the algae sifted to the sandy lake bottom.

We are on our third day socked in here with wildfire smoke which has an Air Quality Index (AQI) value of 475, and a frontcountry holiday weekend campground smell that just won’t lift. If it weren’t for the acrid taint to my nostrils, it’s more reminiscent of fog. We know there are many places suffering thicker skies right now–several 999 values blinked out at me from the California coastline–and many urban settings around the world that regularly endure similar pollution at baseline. We’re keeping a healthy perspective and finding joy in the small discoveries all around us, like a tiny turtle we rescued from between our docks!

We’re attempting to keep Lady Kitty’s little lungs as clear as possible. Nana brought Lady Kitty’s swing inside and hung it from the kitchen beam, to her sheer delight. Swinging and dangling and toddling in place, she’s happily oblivious to the smokey whiteout. When we do duck outside for a dip in the foggy soup, she appears similarly content. Freshness or quality aside, sometimes we simply need a nature bath and a drink of air.

Sunday’s bright white smokey skies

As the smoke drifts off in thankful dispersal, I’ll recall the somberness of the Holy Smoke days of 2020: a memorial to the more than 3.5 million acres of forests that burned. A strange and oddly perfect three days emerged like a phoenix from the ash. I’m glad I spent them with you.

Make way for the ducks: welcome to Autumn at Newman Lake

This evening during happy hour two bald eagles carried on a lively conversation of trills in the tree above me. We may now wear white shoes and white jeans past Labor Day, but few still wear bikinis and wake boards. As Summer melts into Autumn, the recreational boat traffic on our lake begins to recede. Into their place slip the staid year-round residents. Looking up, I am often surprised and rewarded by the quiet prehistoric presence of a Great Blue Heron. Waterfowl are seen more frequently and ducks gad about boldly. A tribe of three wild turkeys strut up and down the lanes with quite a wide range, looking for all the world like a band of marauders until you see them scuttle into the shrubs, bobbing and weaving off through the underbrush. Cloven deer tracks begin to outnumber boot foot prints on the beachfront and forest paths, and we know just where we can find a family of deer at 5pm weekdays. These deer splash regularly through the lakeshore at night en route to the wind fall apples from the tree next door. Daily and tirelessly they bound out of view as I come upon them in their wood, their fluffy white tails flagging their leaps.

Nights are crisp, punctuated with stars and Mars. Days are nature-filled, mellow and perfect. I’m glad we’re here, spending them with you at the lake as Autumn emerges.

Lynn and Lake—Quite a Pair

Lake spews charming expressions, as a four year old ought to. He makes me laugh, and he makes me pause when he bubbles over with Nana’s idioms. It’s comical, and confirms that he’s been palling around with Nana.

He said, “I caught my hat, ‘In the nick of time.’

Then, as they got ready to set out from the cabin for their next adventure “‘We’ll see where our little feetsies are going to take us…'”

Our feetsies took us to Heylman’s wood.

Other real Family Circus style quotes from Lake over the past ten days include:

“Was his birthday canceled?!”

“Now with the peanut butter so thick on the toast, it feels heavy on my arms.”

“A puzzle for me?” Lake asked. Then noticing the 3+ on the box, he said, “It’s for three year olds? Dang! I’m too old for it.”

“No book at bedtime? ‘I’m in disgust'”

“You naughty little imp! You know what she was doing?[regarding Lady Kitty]. She was stealing my bookmark!”

“You’re carrying so many heavy things in one hand–an arm, a head, two legs, 2 arms, a tummy and a back!” he said to me as I held Lady Kitty.

Tonight he stabbed a raw mushroom and was dancing it around in the air at dinner. “Well, that wasn’t a very good idea,” he said after his fork clattered to the floor.

“Lady Kitty is playing with her food,” he said, as indeed Lady Kitty was staring at my breast in a pre-bedtime daze and grabbing at my nipple.

“See you later, Alligator,” says our neighbor Susan to Lake.

“After a while, Crocodile”, he answers as she has taught him to answer.

Then, later, Nana asked, “wasn’t it nice to see Susan?”

“Her name is Crocodile!” Lake said.

Seattle days

Lynn and Lake just counted up the days since we arrived… FIFTY! Practically a lifetime ago we said “goodbye” to Vivien and drove across the state. We’re so grateful to be spending this time together. Another perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you!

Beach Babes

Happy as can be with her Daddy!

Lady Kitty loves the water. Though she’s barely able to stand, she’s thrilled to try out stand up paddle boarding! With a week of hot weather expected, we truly appreciate the cooling presence of the lake.

A fire 200 miles away, near Yakima, blew smoke to us suddenly yesterday. Thankfully it doid not seem to bother the kids at all, though I had trouble breathing. It harkened back to 2017 when the air was thick with wildfires. Oddly, the smoke did not bother me then. Looking back, it was notably smoky.

Historical photo: Newman Lake 5 September 2017

We count our good fortune the air cleared today. Lady Kitty and I went for a hike and then took a refreshing swim. Our hearts go out to all those still battling the wildfires and the ensuing smoke.

A perfect day, I’m glad I spent it with you at the beach.