It’s hard to believe how much bigger the kids are since the last time we visited our friend Sara’s lakehouse 2 years ago. They seemed so little the previous years we’ve spent our Fourth of July here. So much has happened to both our families in the past year, but there’s nothing like sitting out on the dock in the first morning light, taking in all the sparks of light that reflect off the water’s surface. This year the girls were able to swim across the lake to the other side of the dock, with flotation devices of course, but still an accomplishment. They marked their names on the inside of the living room closet, adding their names to the list of family and friends who have completed that swim in past years (never mind that they technically cheated). They’re etched now into the history of the house.
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We’re missing the lakehouse this year, which has sort of become a 4th of July tradition with our friends, the Jensens, over the last couple of years. I know they’re missing it this year too.
Acura, the car brand, publishes a quarterly lifestyle, travel and design magazine for their customer base (a distribution of 850,000 – hey, not bad!) and asked me to submit some photos for consideration for one of their photo essay stories. The lakehouse story was chosen for a 4 page spread and was published this Spring (along with a nice paycheck. Yay for paying photographers for their work!).
Happy 4th of July! We’re going to try and catch some fireworks.
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Did I mention that there is no electricity or running water at Sara’s lakehouse? That means a lot of reading on the porch and early bedtimes, 2 things I don’t really do anymore. It also means the first night is spent staring at the darkness at 4am in the morning because no matter what time I go to sleep, I just wake up 5 or 6 hours later. The outhouse is also a bit of a (short) walk away from the house, which means that I usually choose to hold it in even though I need to go pretty badly because really, who wants to get up in complete darkness in the middle of the night and fumble toward an outhouse with a flashlight? It sort of reminds me of when I used to go camping. The days are ruled by the hours of daylight since there isn’t any electricity, and so you sleep and rise with the sun. When you wake in the middle of the night and can’t go back to sleep, waiting for those first glimmers of morning light can seem like forever. Miraculously, I slept through the 2nd night and woke up to the gentle sound of rain.
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You might recall that last year we met Sara Jensen at her family lakehouse, a house that her great grandfather built in 1906, located 1 hour north of NYC. Sara and I had never met before up until that weekend, having only just chatted over the internet, and I guess she decided that we were not scary strangers or anything because she invited us back again this year. It’s funny what kids remember or don’t remember from the past, but the girls have fond memories of spending the weekend at the house last year and couldn’t stop talking about it the week or so leading up to the 4th. Now, it just feels like a part of summer to us.
(oh, and shhhh…don’t tell anyone we were roasting store-bought marshmallows. totally forgot to bring our own this year).
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I could use a jump in the lake right about now. Do you know that NY is going through one of the worst heat waves in history? People, today was 100 degrees. That is actual temps. Even at 2am last night the temperature hovered near 90.
The weekend seems so far away, but it was only 2 days ago. We’re back to the daily grind of hectic mornings getting the kids to camp, work meetings and deadlines and rides on cramped subways to Manhattan. I look at these pictures and will treasure that weekend. I found an old post that Sara wrote earlier this year where she talks about the lake house among her other favorite things, and feel even more privileged to have spent time at a place steeped in such family history. Thank you Sara, Thor and Henry for inviting us in.
There was a moment during the weekend when Sara and I both admitted that we were a wee bit nervous about meeting each other for the first time. After all, someone’s online persona may not be what they are like in real life. There’s always that chance you’ll be disappointed or let down. I think this is why I feel a little bit awkward when I meet blog readers. I usually feel like a dork and don’t know what to say. I’m more anti-social and private than perhaps I might appear online (or maybe you can tell). But you also have a gut feeling for these things and in the past, I have had very good luck meeting people who have become such awesome, trustworthy friends in real life.
You take a chance and sometimes what you gain is worth its weight in gold.
ps. a video of Claudine at the lake house doing her special “bow”.
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We just got back from one of the best weekends we’ve had in a long time. This is the summer of first meetings – people that I’ve gotten to know online, but are meeting for the first time and who have generously invited us to stay with them.
Sara Jensen and her family used to live in NYC, but they moved to the San Juan Islands in Washington state a year and a half ago (take a look at their wonderful shop. I’ve been using their pomegranate tote bag all summer). I didn’t know her when she lived in NY and I had only really started to get to know her earlier this year, but she invited us to her lake house over the 4th of July weekend while on their cross country road trip back East (yes, she single handedly drove her 2 year old and husband to NY in 6 days from the San Juans).
The lake house is a special place. It was built in 1906 and has been in her family ever since. There is no electricity or running water, there never has been. Life is stripped down to the basics – cooking, eating, swimming, talking and hiking. There were about 15 people staying in the 5 bedroom house and the girls had the best time. Claudine kept saying “it’s so quiet here” and Mia learned how to swim with a life vest on. We couldn’t get her out of the water so she happily paddled around by herself collecting lakeweed when all the adults got too cold from swimming. We warmed up in the sun and watched her from the dock with our coffee and beers.
The days really slow down when you have no regard or care for time. Though this wasn’t camping in the woods, this was as close to camping as I’ve gotten in probably 18 years when I did some serious camping and hiking for weeks at a time in the summers during college. It was a reminder of the importance to stop, unplug and just breathe.
More photos tomorrow…
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