On July 26, 2023

Mountain Meditations: Lakeside bliss

I’ve always been curious to know what it’s like to spend a summer on a lake. So I was delighted to have the chance to stay in a cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee for our very last week of timeshare.

Forty years ago a “free weekend” promotion led us to purchase one week’s timeshare on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. We used it when living in Richmond, Virginia, then exchanged it for travels here and abroad. But we no longer need it so opted to leave it. Last week was our timeshare finale to celebrate our grandson’s eighth birthday in a lakefront retreat of bliss… and climate woes.

Our “birthday quest drive from Killington felt more like a natural disaster survival than a wonderful trip to a beautiful resort,” our grandson concluded en route. Poor Papa Duane drove through pouring rain in yet another New England deluge. Our GPS changed with each road closure. But Papa pressed on, crossing pebbles and mud slides. Jagged route edges broke off into streams that raged, gushed and churned like Alpine snow melt while our iPhones sounded alerts.

We sighed with relief when we arrived and settled into a cozy one bedroom in an old yacht club on Lake Winnipesaukee in Wolfeboro, NH. The view was spectacular of Wolfeboro village and lake from both living room and deck. America’s oldest summer resort (established in 1770), is a charming, petite lakeside town with Colonial homes, restaurants, ice cream shoppes, museums and creative boutiques. Among its fans are former French presidents—Jacques Chirac and Nicolas Sarkozy, the wife of Taiwan’s former president—Mme. Chang Kai-shek, Prince Rainier, Princess Grace and myriad other movie stars.

After supper in our apartment, air quality took a dive as White Mountains disappeared in smoke-filled haze and continued for our first three days. We were grateful for mid week rain that doused air borne smoke particles.

My other concern was flood water runoff. Combined with a large number of waterfowl and humans, it’s a possible recipe for E. coli bacteria. So I contacted the NH Dept. of Environmental Services who sent me their “Healthy Swimming Mapper” and assured me the area was safe due to the lake’s massive size and water volume. So we swam in the pool and at three nearby beaches, jumped off the dock and paddled three kayaks.

At Brewster Beach, high school students from the United Arab Emirate arrived for an afternoon swim. A young man began to choke in deep water, then his friend pulled him to where he touched bottom. I checked to see if he were ok. Mohammed explained his school’s swim lessons ended with the onset of Covid. His group is studying on scholarships this summer at Brewster Academy, a private college preparatory school. They’ll visit Boston and Harvard before they return to the UAE.

Our grandson aced the scavenger hunt at The Libby Museum’s wildlife exhibits of birds, water fowl, bears (black and polar), raccoons, beavers, mink, ferrets, Fischer and bobcats.

The WWII Museum was a compelling history lesson for the great grandson of Duane’s Dad who arrived on Utah Beach during the invasion of Normandy. The birthday boy was inspired to spend his gift money on toy soldiers then set up a battle of Russia vs America on the cottage floor.

“Putin was the guy on the mountain (a chair) with a giant nuclear factory behind him. He was willing to blow up the world. But the battle ended when the American general pushed Putin into the nuclear waste funnel, but he lost his balance. Fortunately, during his fall, he grabbed a lever that shut down the factory but his hand slipped off and he disappeared. After that, they backed up the war and didn’t fight. To be continued…”

“Yikes” I replied, a tad overwhelmed by the woes of Putin, flood water runoff, and wildfire smoke invading our lungs—more than enough to contemplate while gazing at a peaceful lake. (Wait! Is this why we’ve been coughing all night or is it just a summer cold?)

The last night we strolled downtown to the bandstand where townsfolk gathered in the park on the lake for a bluegrass band called Southern Rail. As Wolfeboro citizens and friends came together for their weekly summer musical tradition, I felt hope for the world with their smiles and hugs, children dancing and tails wagging. Beside a lake, concerns drift away. For a moment all all is right  all’s right with the world.

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