2014-08-13 / Editorial

THE BIG WATER, AND THE LITTLE

Don Lively

Another staple of summer life in America and in the Blessed South.

Lake Life.

You’ve seen the tee shirts.

Lake: def. n. An area, prototypically filled with water, of variable size, localized in a basin, that is surrounded by land apart from any river or other outlet that serves to feed or drain the lake.

Prototypically filled with water?

Well, duh.

I’m not a boat owner (yet) but I have enough friends and kinfolk who are that I occasionally get to enjoy being on various Southern lakes. Other times over the years, Out West, I’ve thrown in with my fellow cop buddies and rented party barges under the pretense of fishing the huge mountain lakes when in fact the real purpose was to leave the city behind for a few days and play a few hands of poker while eating and drinking the foods and beverages that men eat and drink in copious quantities when women aren’t around.

Lake Life meets Mountain Life.

On one of those infamous forays we went to a place called Blue Mesa.

It sounds calm and innocuous, right?

Wrong.

Located a mile and a half high in the Rockies, you won’t find a more picturesque setting and on many summer days the huge lake is as still as glass.

Some days, but not all.

One fine day we had the twenty-two foot pontoon boat loaded down with five cops, one fireman and one defense attorney. I never learned who invited the lawyer but on more than one occasion we threatened to use him as cut bait. Anyway, around mid afternoon black clouds blew in and as often happens in that part of the world the weather changed within minutes. Suddenly there were six foot swells tossing the boat about like it was a toy, rain lashing the open deck and lightening popping in every direction. I was wishing Jesus would appear and shout “ Peace, be still!”

He didn’t but we somehow made it back to the marina and I thanked Him profusely the rest of the day.

And, yes purists, I do know that He did His thing on a sea, not a lake.

It was just a allegory, okay?

I am always struck while flying over America how often the flight paths go over huge bodies of water, normally ones that I can’t identify from 30,000 feet up. And the lakes are always dotted with boats.

Lake Life.

One year I drove from Minnesota into Canada along the western shore of Lake Superior. If I hadn’t known that I was roughly halfway between the Pacific and the Atlantic, and a thousand miles from the Gulf, I’d have sworn I was at some ocean. There were sizable waves hitting the shore, sandy beaches, huge transport ships on the horizon and no sign of land across the vastness. But when I looked the other direction, westward, I saw deep and dark northern woods that appeared to stretch for miles.

Another time I drove along the shore of the Great Salt Lake. It was indeed salty as evidenced by the white foam washing onto the dark sand.

And recently I saw Yellowstone Lake. It’s one of the largest natural lakes in America. It’s the crater of an ancient, and obviously huge, volcano. I was amazed at how that much water could be naturally trapped that high in the mountains.

All of those lakes, Superior, Great Salt and Yellowstone have one thing in common.

I’ve stuck my bare feet in all three.

Just cause I wanted to.

I’m a Southern boy, I know a great lake when I see one.

Around these parts the lake of choice spans two states. As far as my limited research can tell it’s the only lake in America that bears two legal names. It was always known as Clark’s Hill Lake until the folks on the Carolina side passed a law christening it Lake Strom Thurmond. Georgia folks took umbrage and passed legislation resurrecting the name Clark’s Hill.

Southerners love lakes but they also love debate.

We even have a small lake in our little town. It’s the same lake where Wheatie, David, Mike and I, with about a half ton of fishing gear and one of the first and loudest boom boxes ever made, piled into a small john boat that was designed to hold two fishermen, paddled to the middle and promptly swamped and overturned the craft losing pretty much everything before we swam to shore.

Lake Life in the 60s.

Before the tee shirts.

( Next week, rivers.)

Don Lively is a freelance writer and author of Howlin’ At The Dixie Moon. He lives in Shell Bluff, Georgia. Email Don at Livelycolo@aol.com.

Return to top