Some time ago, Steve and I were debating the eternal question – if we were ever able to buy a second home, would we want a beach house or a lake house? Steve voted beach. I could go either way, but I think I’d probably tilt toward lake. I just love a good lake. Don’t you? Anyway, as summer is rolling in, I’ve got to thinking about all of the lakes I’ve been lucky enough to enjoy.
Most definitively, the Great Sacandaga Lake, where my parents have their camp. This lake was a fixture of my childhood – sailing, paddling and windsurfing on its friendly waters, jumping off the dock and the boat deck with my brother and cousins, and lighting bonfires on the beach every Labor Day.
Nearby, lovely Lake George – I have more memories here as a teenager and twentysomething – strolling the village and the docks first with my friend Jessica (once we popped into a junk shop and picked up a bumper sticker that said “Honk if you love Sweden!” and her parents scratched their heads the whole way home about why so many cars were honking – duh, everyone loves Sweden) and in my twenties, with my high school BFF Jenn and our mutual pal Seth (a college classmate of mine and co-worker of Seth’s). We’ve spent a few evenings kicked back at Seth’s lake house while he grilled up a dinner and the next door neighbors fired their pirate cannon at the tourists on the Minne-ha-ha.
Another childhood fixture – postage-stamp-sized Mirror Lake, around which the village of Lake Placid nestles. Most of my memories are from winter – skating and sledding on the frozen lake – but I watched my rugrats splash and play in the lake’s clear waters last summer.
Five minutes from Mirror Lake, there’s gleaming Lake Placid. Once my dad and I launched kayaks near the village and paddled all the way to the back slope of Whiteface Mountain, then popped open a bottle of sauvignon blanc and floated around with plastic wine glasses in hand. (We should do that again.)
My mom’s childhood memories are all of Lake Minnewaska. Her stories of visiting a lakeside resort here with her parents – a resort that burned down decades ago – are so Dirty Dancing it makes me want to tango.
Nowadays, my most frequented lake is probably Lake Burke. We’re usually to be found on the hiking trails circumnavigating the lake, but this summer I’d like to get out on the water.
Although I like my lakes small enough to sail across in a Flying Scot, I did live in the Great Lakes region for three years, not far from the shores of mighty Lake Erie. The views never got old.
And speaking of Great Lakes views, my habit of treating myself to sunrise runs while on business travel served me well when I watched the day roll in over Lake Michigan while in Chicago for a traditional labor law workshop.
But the greatest lake of all has to be Cayuga Lake, with its waves of blue just downhill from the greatest university in the world – obviously – Cornell. (Honorable mention to sweet Beebe Lake, with its excellent running trails.)
And I haven’t even mentioned the lakes I’ve been lucky enough to dip a toe into on my travels – like the most famous lake of all, Scotland’s Loch Ness. (I didn’t see Nessie.)
And postcard-perfect, unspoiled Derwentwater in – where else? – the Lake District. Just looking at this picture is making me want to go back to Keswick.
Clearly, I love a good lake. And this summer I’m hoping to add Lake Washington and Lake Union to my list. Of all the things that are quintessentially summer, a clear lake tops the list, right?