This broad, beckoning, deep-blueness of the lakes? There is no name, no container for this blue. It is too crystal, too sweeping, too untainted, too breathtaking.
This fortress of old growth forests? Striking soldiers of pine against sapphire skies. Hardy maples offering quiet shade to the littlest of creatures, creating sun dappled beauty on the shoreline. Magically coloring in autumn. Fragilely disappearing in the chill.
This delicate balance of humanity and wildlife? A mallard swooping with conviction to what calls him on the lake. A great blue heron gracefully lighting among the shore reeds. A tiny box turtle moving quick-as-he-is-able, taking refuge under the boggiest mossy meeting of land and lake, when he hears us coming. For we know that the animal kingdom, while instinctively claiming territory, has not imposed the borders on God’s precious gift to us, our home, our planet, as we humans have.
These mountains that call us perennially? They sit in quiet guard always. They rejuvenate and refresh with their pureness. Their very name resounds with distinction, vastness. And for us, familiarity, a coming home. A feeling of privileged return.
This rich fabric of history? Our collective history. These mountains echo with battle cries of the brave and the mighty. Those with strong belief in their cause. Battles that pitted God’s sons against each other over borders. And principles. And pride. So that one asserts its dominance in the French and Indian War and then, so that one claims its independence in the Revolutionary War.
It is the story of us all, fought for them and fought for us. For we are their future.
We saw the face of Jesus in our guide at Fort William Henry, as he ardently spreads these stories that he holds dear; as he conjures images that so aptly spring to life events at the Fort. In so doing, he spreads the Word. For these stories are the key to who we are. If we were there, on these battlefields two hundred and fifty years ago, we would have seen the face of Jesus there as well.
He was there. He carried each soldier. For Jesus takes no side. He was there. Encouraging and guiding and providing perseverance. He was there. And in their final moments, He was there. Consoling those left behind. Escorting the others Home.
And the tapestry of our family history, here, in this serenity? It is profound. Often it comes crashing and burning with such ferocity, I am back again. It is 1973 or it is 1978 or it is 1982. No matter. There is a rickety redwood picnic table. There are bare, sandy feet. There are stacks of books and board games. And up on Route 9, there is the comforting fixture of our American flag waving, though largely unnoticed. There is homemade potato salad and a plate stacked with slices of tomato and cucumber. There are fishing rods leaning by the cabin door; haphazard piles of sandals and flip flops alongside. Today there was dock jumping and row boating and mussel hunting. Then as the sun dipped low behind the mountains ringing Schroon, after a day all too fleeting, there is the whisper-y fragrance of citronella and hickory barbeque and the familiar July crescendo of cicadas. There is the Big Dipper and Cassiopeia, easily spied overhead night after night in the vast, velvety blankness. There is someone randomly asking, “Can anyone spot the Pleiades?” and “Who’s up for a game of Trivial Pursuit?” And most vividly, there are hushed, happy voices, familiar lilts and inflections, saying nothing of huge importance, but enveloping me in safe-ness.
Think back. You could not imagine ever being without them; but they have now been called Home. These cherished people, this thin place in time, these snapshots that flash back to you, unbeckoned. They all mingle to create the definition of childhood.
And so, an attempt to give to our own, the beauty of belonging, no matter where they are. Of cherished times to carry with them on their own journeys. My husband and I are now taken back at the awakening that this is our charge now. The everyday-ness. The rituals, the safety. It is in our hands. Forming a patchwork of memory fragments that our boys will look to decades from now. It is an awesome realization, an awesome responsibility. We are blessed to have been bestowed this grace from God to lead our small souls.
And so, there are many traditions. But one family event has become a sacred ritual for our boys. And for us. It is our annual trek north.
Shrouded among the stately mountains and indigo lake, reflecting the pines, the junipers, the aluminum rowboat and the bobbing dock, we are inside what could be a scene on a postcard. Paul and Kev chat comfortably while casting line and bobbers are configured onto brand-new-Santa-gifted fishing rods. Timmy is splashing happily, already submerged in the icy lake and half way to the dock. And yelling, “C’mon guys!” It is a day full. Boys on the loose will find enough nature to explore dawn to dusk. And it is made all the brighter by togetherness.
Later, after a hotdog and s’more feast around our dwindling campfire, sheltered and snug in the pine-y scented nylon of our tents, my husband’s voice trails off as he and Kev are immersed in their current before-sleep-novel. Timmy and I settle under his Pooh blanket and the neon of birthday goodie bag glow sticks and tons of hugs and ready the book we’ll now savor.
“Wait, Mom, one more quick prayer,” he blurts as the enormous, dark eyes, heavy with happy exhaustion, reach out.
“I know we should be praying for others, but I have to ask God for another day like this tomorrow. This was the BEST.” He hunkers down further in his sleeping bag and whispers, “Oh and thanks, God, for all of this. I’m so lucky.”
Yeah, well, me too.
He certainly HAS shed His grace on thee. On all of us.
Copyright 2010 Christine Capolino