Lake Life

“Rest is not idleness, and to lie sometimes on the grass under trees on a summer’s day, listening to the murmur of the water, or watching the clouds float across the sky, is by no means a waste of time.”
John Lubbock

Resting is not my strong suit.

I’m happiest when I have multiple projects going at once. I used to think this was a character fl”aw, but I really do believe it’s just how I am. My son Eli is two and he’s the same way. He’s been just like this since he was tiny and I assume I was the same way.

One of my earliest childhood memories is my dad (who is one of the most laid back people I’ve ever met) sitting beside me on the couch, trying to get me to watch TV and saying, “Can’t you just relax?”

I can. And I do. It just doesn’t look like relaxing to most people. I have two speeds — full speed and recovery mode. And I’ll be spending this gorgeous Labor Day weekend in recovery mode on the lake.

I’m a Minnesota girl and I grew up in the water. I can (and frequently do) spend huge expanses of time swimming. I can stay out for hours, just floating on my back and staring up at the sky. There’s nothing as soothing to me as the sound of waves lapping against the shore and the smooth surface of the water stretching out like glass under an endless sky.

I’m lucky to live where I do, almost unbelievably blessed to be within a short drive of literally hundreds of lakes. I’m lucky to have parents who believed that fresh air and running wild and making your own fun were the building blocks of a great childhood.

I’m lucky to have a husband who can captain a boat and who doesn’t mind that I’ll just read, nap and work on my tan while his line is in the water.

I’m lucky to have a sister who loves to canoe and take walks with me and a brother who pushes me to try increasingly wild (and probably stupid) things on personal watercraft.

If you happen to see a couple of long-haired wild ones flying across the open water, throttles wide open, that’s probably us. Sometimes we kill the engines and stare at each other with wide eyes and just grin and grin as our ears readjust to the silence.

Every lake is different, from the busy, buzzy social centers with inviting public beaches and lots of cold beer, live music and laugher to mellow family spots where splashes and little giggles echo across the water.

Lake of the Woods straddles the border between the U.S. and Canada.

I love the huge fishing lakes where the lake stretches to the horizon like the sea and I love the quiet little northwoods hideaways where the water is still and crystal clear and loons call out to each other at dusk.

Lake life, for me, is my own version of rest. It’s sun-kissed shoulders and cold beer and the creak of the dock under your feet. It’s minnows swimming around your ankles and sand between your toes and the smell of sunscreen and hamburgers on the grill.

Camp fire Zen is part of the joy of lake ilfe.

It’s lawn chairs and campfires and tackle boxes. It’s the rustle of the leaves on the trees and the way a perfectly toasted marshmallow sticks to the roof of your mouth.

Lake life is a mix of peace and wildness, relaxation and adrenaline, stillness and energy. And it’s where I’ll be this weekend.
Where will you be?

What about you?
What’s your summertime happy place?
Which lakes do you love?
What kind of outdoor recreation helps you relax and unwind?

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Alicia Underlee Nelson

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