Last week I watched a storm across this lake. The wind chopped up the water and heat lightning cracked in the distance. I stood in the grass, barefoot, and with people important to me.
Most of the time, Florida brims over with bugs, humidity, and evil-intent. It reminds me of things I want to forget even though they made me me, and I wouldn’t want to be anyone else.
But then there is this lake. Don’t swim in it, mind you. Snakes and alligators await, and the gods know what else. Weeds grow near the shore. You can see them peeking out above the water, and they’re killing the lake. It’s all bugs and no fish. None that I saw anyway. No one was fishing. My dad used to sit on the dock and feed the catfish. He doesn’t anymore.
He’s sold his boat, so those days are gone. In fact, the dock is rotting, and my dad, now 83, isn’t likely to replace it. Eventually, someone else will stand where I was standing and stare out at the water. What will they see?
they won’t know the stories of the many docks my dad has built, of course. They probably won’t ever see the thick clouds of birds in winter stream overhead to the island at the lake’s center. Where are the minnows and the shells and the blue gill?
There are no more hot air balloon races coming over the cow pastures (which are gone as well) and drifting over the lake and beyond.
The monkey-ear tree, the punk tree, and the tangerine tree are long gone. The first one I used to climb, the second one I used to peal layers off of to use as paper for secret notes, and the third I used to pick bag-fulls of tangerines from. I’d sit on the dock and eat so many tangerines, my lips would burn.
One day, perhaps the ocean will claim this land again.
A little girl lives next door to my dad these days. I wonder what memories she will make of this place.
But for all that, every time I visit and stand on the lake’s edge and take yet another photograph, I feel the magic over the water. Whether it’s the glare of the sun overhead or the beauty of the sunset, I could stare out at the lake all day. I love the storm winds whipping across, the clouds, the waves, the few large birds swooping over the water.
I was lucky to grow up with this out my front door.
Thanks for reading.