Have you ever witnessed a Lake Storm?
As you know, I am a Lake Girl! I love the lake. I love the quiet, the solitude, nature at its finest. On a beautiful, calm day at the cottage, I am outside from dawn to dusk. I love to dip my feet in the water while kayaking, to drink my tea while waiting for the sunrise. I lay in the sun and jump in the water whenever I get hot. I keep busy by raking leaves, cleaning out the boathouse, and sweeping the decks.
On days like these, I can be out in a kayak or swimming and not even see a ripple to break the surface of the lake. When the lake is calm, you can look down and see the rocks, logs, and fish swimming below. The water looks almost turquoise. The skies overhead are an amazing blue and the sun is streaming down with a handful of clouds providing brief moments of shade. I love days like these. There is nothing to break the relaxation, the quiet, the gentleness of the day.
Sometimes in the midst of this quiet and safety a major storm is brewing at your back and you can be caught completely off guard. On one calm day like this, I paddled slowly across the lake with Child #7, my life jacket at my feet and the sun on my face. On the return trip the skies darkened and the winds quickened. I realized it was getting harder to paddle and the waves occasionally splashed over the kayak. I scrambled into my life jacket and we began to paddle harder and faster. We couldn’t hear each other over the wind and we wouldn’t have been able to help each other if one of us had a problem.
Lake Storms can come upon you quickly and they can be dangerous.
The other day Mother Fran, Child #7 and I were driving home and we could see dark clouds to the North and East. Dark, ominous clouds. But we were driving South and the skies ahead were blue and the sun was shining. We are seasoned Lake Girls however and all 3 of us were aware that a storm was brewing and depending on the winds we could get hit by it or miss it completely. We got to the cottage and my sister and I decided to jump in the lake before the storm hit. What can I say, if you love lake life, you love it!
We quickly changed and ran down the stairs to the water. I grabbed a noodle and entered the lake via the steps. While I was swimming, she simply jumped in. We chatted for a bit and watched the storm approach. We heard the gentle thunder in the distance and watched the calm water begin to ripple and to develop odd patterns on the surface. We saw lightning flash in the distance and motor boats racing to safety. These are all good signs to get the hell out of the water! We both got out and rushed upstairs to the deck right outside the house.
Within minutes, the winds kicked up, the ripples turned into churning waves, and we watched the storm roll in. The thunder was now overhead and the wind roared. Leaves and sticks began flying through the air and the rain began to pelt us. I literally grabbed the railing feeling like I might be swept up by the wind.
Lake Storms can come upon you quickly and they can be dangerous. They can take you completely by surprise like that day I struggled into my life jacket and paddled as fast as I could to the safety of the cottage. Lake Storms can also be fun to watch when you are paying attention and not caught off guard.
When I am paying attention to my surroundings, I can see a storm coming. The Finger Lakes are known for being long and skinny and they have a Northern and Southern tip. Mother Fran’s cottage is on the South end of our lake. When a storm is coming, the clouds (typically from the North) turn dark and ominous. If I am listening, I can hear thunder in the distance. I can feel subtle changes in the wind as it slowly begins to pick up. The surface of the lake changes seemingly from moment to moment. The calmness is replaced by odd patterns and then ripples and then fast-moving waves develop. The blue sky overhead darkens and begin to feel threatening.
People say Lake Storms come out of nowhere. I am learning that maybe they are simply not paying attention to the cues that signal one’s approach.
I think Lake Storms can be compared to difficult times in our lives. They remind me of a death in the family, getting fired from a job or the traumatic end to a relationship. When we only have the ability or energy to deal with life on the surface everything can seem relatively calm or just a little ripply. Maybe we are missing the cues that are whispering to us to pay attention. Or perhaps we are ignoring them, hoping things will get better on their own.
Taking my daily Quiet Time helps me to pay attention to the cues around me that signal a change is brewing. It helps me notice when my honey is quieter than usual, when I haven’t heard from a loved one, when my co-workers are uptight. My Quiet Time helps me pay attention to the subtle cues that I otherwise might miss. The cues that can alert me that something is off and that I need to pay attention or get caught up in whatever storm is brewing.
People say with age comes wisdom. Maybe this is true. I used to ignore the cues in life that might have alerted me to difficult times. I avoided the difficult conversations, I dodged the negative vibes, the prickling at the back of my neck. I hid under the rock of rosy optimism that all was good. The problem with this approach to life is once you miss the small subtle cues that change is in the air it too late to handle the storm easily. The calm is turning to chaos and you get caught in a little blue kayak in the middle of the lake with no life jacket and a ferocious Lake Storm raging all around you.
Go take a few minutes of quiet time and check in with the prickle at the back of your neck. The lake looks calm on the surface but if you aren’t paying attention you might be missing the cues to keep you on the path to health, wealth and happiness!