A positive expression? Not usually. But during my childhood summers, I obliged anyone who threw it my way — parents, siblings, even dumb boys who said I couldn’t pitch.
Long before tourists clogged the rustic hills of Brown County, Indiana, my parents owned land on spring-fed Lost Lake. Spilling out of the back of Dad’s pickup, we kids took a leap of faith into the narrow bay our lot bordered.
Instant agony. Instant ecstasy. We dropped into an icy-cold, green, sunlit world far removed from report cards, chores and dumb boys.
We often rowed Dad’s boat to the sparsely-populated beach. There we played Shark and Dolphins, dove for rubies and sapphires (red and blue rocks) and built huge sand subdivisions.
During my teens, pressures (a tiny allowance, a tiny bust, and no cute dumb boys in my life) weighed heavily. So I floated on my back, letting a daisy sun in a scrubbed-denim-blue sky warm me. …
Fast forward 20 years. I frequented another lakeshore called Price’s Pond, which boasted a small beach edged by grassy, tree-shaded areas. We young mothers with sleeping babies took refuge there while watching sand-throwing toddlers. I joined my kids in playing “Motorboat,” bouncing on big plastic Sea Puppies, and catching minnows. They took swimming lessons with curvy young lifeguards, and my mom radar shifted into hyperdrive as my babies swam past the confining rope, always reaching for deeper water.
We celebrated our children’s baptisms at Price’s. One day a daughter danced with her new husband near the beach where she and I once baked pretend brown-sugar cakes in the summer sun.
Fast forward again. Now Taylor Lake invites me to play hooky. After weeks of hard work, my grouchy laptop and grumpy me need space apart before we kill each other. So I bike to the lake. Surrounded by grassy, tree-shaded areas, young mothers with sleeping babies and sand-throwing toddlers take refuge.
I no longer belong to that club. My baby’s 6’6” frame hangs off any beach towel, and his wife now keeps him out of trouble.
But some things don’t change. Boys with cracking soprano voices stampede the beach. Strains of “Marco!” “Polo!” again fry adults’ brains. A new generation of curvy young lifeguards swings whistles. Perhaps I should spare the world the sight of my lumpy-frumpy-bumpy body. But the sparkling water allures.
Recklessly, I plunge in. The pressures of family, work and a mailbox full of discount burial plot ads vanish. I float on my back, savoring the daisy sun in the denim-blue sky.
Go ahead. Tell me to jump in the lake.
A little bit of heaven awaits me there.
Where is your favorite summer refuge?