For Raynotbradbury’s “my life in percentage” challenge.
I have just returned from a vacation, a trip, a pilgrimage where I was unplugged. No list. No goals. No internet. No outlets. Just a lake and old cabins and meals and weather and quiet. Percentage, I wonder, of what? Happiness? Efficiency? Joy? Gratitude? Percentage genuine? Percentage genuine and present. What percentage is a loon at? Either 0 or 100 percent and they are both the same.
We travel to the lake. It’s hard to get to from my home. We drive to a Seattle hotel for a park and fly. Stay the night. 6:08 flight Seattle to Detroit. Short layover but I know the airport, we make the gate with 120 seconds to spare. Our checked bags make it too. Flight Detroit to Sault St Marie, MI. I did not reserve a rental car soon enough to get one in Michigan, so we have a limo reserved. It’s a van. The van takes us across the border into Canada and to the Sault St Marie, ON airport, where we get a rental car. We drive to a grocery store and get a few groceries. The plane landed at 3:08, and I would like to get to the lake before dark. We drive from Sault St Marie to Blind River, and the 17 miles to the lake. We find the old boat, load in our stuff and get the four stroke started, one hour before sunset. The cabins can be reached by boat, no road. The dock was destroyed by ice so I have to pull the motor up as we come in to the pebble beach. I am just big enough to do yank the motor up. We are here. We unload.
Crazy, right? I have been describing it as “shacks on a lake”. No electricity. Propane stove and refrigerator. We used to use candles, but the fire risk is high this year. LEDs now. One cabin was built by my grandparents somewhere between 1936 and 1938. The other is a log cabin, built in the war years by a pair of French Canadians, logs chinked like tinker toys. Not quite though. It’s the log above chinked to the log below.
We set up tents and are unplugged. I have two phones. My t-mobile won’t work at all. The old I-phone will work sort of sometimes on the front rocks. I have camera batteries and take a lot of photographs.
I open my computer once at the library in two weeks.
We sleep in tents except for the two nights with major thunderstorms. It’s really the outdoors I want. The lake changes color and mood from moment to moment. I swim this year: I am way stronger than in 2015 or it’s warmer or both. We are in the cabin to eat and do dishes, but otherwise we are nearly always outside. The loons call. A family of mergansers comes up on the rock with us, 10 or 11. Otter sliding through the water. A pair of raccoons. A snapping turtle the size of a platter. Three pileated woodpeckers come to check out my flute. Three sandhill cranes by the road on the way into town. My cousins report a moose on the way into town.
The loons answer when my daughter plays violin: every time she plays the E string, they reply.
I’ve been visiting that lake since I was 5 months old. The lake, the rocks, the trees. The lake changes color every moment, changes surface mood, change. But the depths change slowly and are present, a turnover when the lake thaws in the spring and freezes in the fall.
I am the lake and the lake is me. Unplugged and being. Minimal doing. No list. Eat when hungry. Sleep so deep and swim and canoe around the lake.
I canoe and there is a woman, way across the bay. We talk. I know her last name, she knows mine. She remembers playing at our cabin with me and my sister, our long hair, running around while the adults talked about Watergate. About 1970. Her father just died in his upper 80s. He defied the doctors after a stroke a decade before, walked again and she kept bringing him to the lake. Now they are trying to maintain an old cabin, as we are.
My sister’s writing about the lake from 2009: Rain on water.