Sunday, June 1, 2008

Livin' la vida lago

As a California almost-native (who's counting those first three years in Kansas, really?), I'm definitely an ocean girl. The magnitude of it, the crashing waves, and the salty air are a winning combination for me, no matter what the season. During my years in Chicago, Lake Michigan was a reasonable substitute, because it's so large it looks like an ocean. Of course, it was hardly ever warm enough to enjoy it...but I digress. When we moved to land-locked Atlanta three years ago, it seemed I was limited to chlorine-filled bodies of water. For the past three summers it was a perfectly acceptable way to beat the heat and, more importantly, keep the kids occupied. Swimming pools don't generally rank high on the scenic scale, though. So, while the South's acres and acres of trees and the lush blossoms of spring always take my breath away, I had yet to experience any aquatic aesthetics worth mentioning.

Fortunately Jennifer was around to open up new worlds to me. Jennifer is an Atlanta native and a veteran of the lake house lifestyle. She and her husband recently pulled the trigger on a house on Lake Martin, Alabama, and about one hour after closing on said place she extended an invitation for us to visit. Amy and I decided that, with husbands working long hours and the kids no longer in school, it would probably not be a bad way to pass a few days. Beyond that, I had few expectations. The prospect of four other kids and two other moms around was more than enough to motivate me to load up the car and hit the road for two hours. Both Clare and Danny were very excited by the concept of the "lake house," despite neither having a clue what it really meant. Well, now they're hooked - and so am I.

It helps that the as-yet-to-be-named house sits directly on the lake. There are panoramic views from almost every window. The giant screened-in porch that runs the length of the house is truly all-purpose, too, providing great play space and even better wine-sipping spots for after the kids have hit the sack. But it's the dock and lake that are the main attractions and which won us over completely. The dock is nestled on a quiet corner of a tree-lined cove, with just a couple of other houses barely visible. The water was so refreshing, without any salt in the eyes. And the lack of sand is a HUGE bonus. Minnows and other small fish were occasionally spotted, although with our rowdy bunch they didn't tend to linger (much to Olivia's nature-loving dismay). We dove, floated, cannonballed and swam away the morning and afternoon hours as though we were born to do it.

I was particularly excited by Clare's enthusiasm for the water, as she is by nature a cautious swimmer. By the end of our time there, though, she was jumping in (with a floaty), swimming with Brady back and forth underneath the dock, and taking long swimming adventures with me out into the cove. In fact, that's she and I, in the far distance, in that top picture. How far she has come from two years ago, when she wouldn't leave the steps of the pool! And how far we have come here in Atlanta, where my friends feel like family and the memories grow more meaningful every day.

Jennifer, when can we come back?