Life at the Lake

a diary of living at a small lowland lake


Early moonrise over Lake Ketchum

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Sunrise, with a gorgeous day to follow


Ah, life on the Riviera! Or so it would seem, these February days. But the weatherperson says they are soon to end. And, as though in response, some wispy innocent clouds begin to appear in the Southwest.

But it has been splendid—two or three such cloudless days in a row. Ah, February, with its illusionary respite to winter.

Norma has been cutting back the large rose bed and I have been hauling the sharp canes to the organic dump some of his share away from the lake. Nothing to go into it except what will naturally biodegrade within two years. (Okay, some joker once deposited cement shards in it, and an old resident got rid of his corrugated plastic shed roofing. They will be there . . . forever.)

The wind is picking up and the tarps are flapping. But there are still some scraps of brilliant sunshine falling in a patchwork design on the grass that is asking to be cut. I will resist my push-type lawnmower well into March. Then I will succumb, as will my neighbors. Usually I am the last.

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The Big Dipper


Lugging the recycling bins out to the curb last night, I was astonished by the vastness of the sparkling sky. Sure, I've looked up before, but not quite the way I did this brilliant, frosty, early evening. I hadn't truly stared up at the Northern sky this way since I was a boy and had learned my basic constellations.

The Big Dipper is hard to miss; it covers the sky like a glove and is, well, unmistakably huge. I marveled, but only for a moment, and thought about the long past—Boy Scout campfires, a man I knew in college who knew all the stars and wasn't hesitant about naming them aloud to his new friends. (Stan went on to teach lit at Colorado State and made, I am sure, an excellent teacher.)

So I moseyed back to the house, marveling all the while, and—lo!—what met my awakened eyes but the Little Dipper, a mirror image (almost) of the former and equally as sparkling, especially so if you hadn't just seen its bigger brother.

What a pair they make! And now, newly reacquainted, I vow to look up at that vast arena, the sky (The Sky!)much more frequently than in my negligent past.

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Author Tolstoy


"What is Art?" asked Leo Tolstoy, the great author of War and Peace and Anna Karenina.

To which I reply: "Good question. Art is what the artist secretes."

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It is February 9 and this is the temperature. Thermometers don't lie, do they? Even when they are placed in the sun?


Each year February comes round and manages to confuse us thoroughly.

Surely it is spring? Well, the Internet reports the temperature in Stanwood, Washington, (five miles away) is quickly risen to 43 degrees. An hour ago it was a crisp 37. So what happened? The sun came out, that's all.

It is still winter, but my camera caught the temperature outside my window, which faces the lake to the South, and this is what I found. (See picture above.)

Sure, it is a lie. I turned my face to "the lie" for a few long minutes and drank in the warmth. Then I trotted inside, disbelieving, and went back to work, after chopping some old alder firewood for tonight, shooting a few baskets in the driveway, and hauling some rose brambles away that my wife cut yesterday.

One more small thing. On my morning drive into see my dentist, I passed an accipiter on a telephone wire; on my way back, more than an hour later, there he was—on the same wire, with exactly the same look on his iron face.

It is good to have a few things that remain constant.

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