Tuesday, June 1, 2010

another deja vu...

As I sit here typing this, I'm experiencing a serious sense of déjà vu.

It was a year ago today that I sat on this same chair, looking at the same scenery, senses experiencing the same set of stimuli. The lake is silent. Calm. Flat. The sun just peaking over the trees on the other side making the water sparkle like perfectly cut diamonds. The only sound is the swans speaking with each other.

It’s obviously going to be another perfect day.

The rest of the household is still sleeping. There are no window treatments in the room I’m in, so I laid in bed last night watching the full moons reflection make it’s way across the black and blue water. It was too beautiful and serene to sleep. But I did; eventually.

To wake to this.
This calm. This peace. This beauty.

Sometimes when I’m at places that take my breath away; like the house I rented on the ski slope in Colorado, or the home deep in the Tennessee hills, or the beachfront property on Amelia Island. I wonder if the owners of these gracious vacation homes, or their neighbors, see it the same way I do. Do they see it’s perfect-ness? Or do they see it so often that they no longer feel the zen that perhaps it created for them on their first visit to the property.

My brother has lived here for seven years now. His intent when he purchased this particular piece of land on the lake was to build, sell and build again on the lot next door which he owned as well. It was about business. He wasn't building a home, he was building an invesment.There is a gorgeous large weeping willow tree between the two properties on the edge of the lake that he was going to have removed.

“It blocks the view. It’s got to go.” he told me one day.

“Uh. No, Charles. It raises the property value. It’s beautiful!” I desperately tried to convince him.

He was unwavering in his decision to remove the tree. Once Charles has made up his mind he may listen to other peoples input, but he usually follows what he has already planned out. But for once, my argument worked. He listened to me. He did not cut it down. It is a focal point on the lake. If out on a boat, you can see it from just about everywhere with my brothers house behind it. It's idealic. I’m sitting under this magnificent tree right now. He ended up staying in the house he built and sold the property next door.

His home is large. Three stories of large windows face the lake. It's built for entertaining, complete with infrared stereo system that extends all the way out to the water line. But his house is sparsely decorated. He is a widower of seventeen years. No ones quite been able to fill Terse's shoes. His home lacks a female touch. The kitchen would make a gourmet drool except that it doesn't have any cooking utensils. Things aren't put logically into the correct drawers or cabinets. Where the silverware should be, the drawer houses pads of paper and appliance manuals. The best spot for pots and pans holds small isualted coolers instead. The pans are located next to the fridge and the plates are where glassware should be and visa versa. Granted, he doesn't cook or use his kitchen much, so he doesn't think about these things.

Model homes tend to have more knick-knacks than his house does. I noticed a huge change on this visit. It's taken seven whole years, but on this visit he actually has artwork hanging on the walls. There is a beautiful large area rug in the living room and a tall copper pot with fronds. He's now decided that this house is indeed his home. The throw pillows gave it away.

Oh, and he now loves the tree. You’re welcome Mr. Willow.

We set off fireworks last evening. Normally when I come up we pass the signs on the highway touting ‘FIREWORKS! Easy off, Easy on’ but we keep on driving. Each driveby we comment that some day we should stop someday when we have more time. We’re usually in a rush to get there, or in a rush to get home…so stopping at the FIREWORKS store is not a priority.

Yesterday it was.
We stopped.
And we bought.

In Ohio it’s illegal to sell or set off fireworks. In Michigan they do sell them, but it’s still illegal to set them off. But on a private lake where there are always someone lighting the night sky with sparkly lights. We had Black Cat mortars which went extremely high and sent lovely colors in every direction. Ending with a sparkly, fizzily finish. A package of 12 tubes called Size doesn’t Matter that sent timed shots airborne that made us look like professional pyrotechnic operators.

But the most amazing thing we lit and sent off was floating lanterns. Not floating as in water floating, but floating as in air floating. A semi-opaque biodegradable three foot high coated tissue thin paper balloon of sorts with a black flammable square attached to the base. You can write messages on the side if you wish, light the base, wait a moment for the hot air to fill the balloon and up and away it goes.

It was beautiful. Starting out slowly at first and then when it reached the height above the tree line it took off. We lost sight of it about a mile or so away, but it was still up there. No losing altitude. Yet. I wonder where it will land. Who will find it. Who sat on their porches or decks last night pointing up at the night sky “What the hell is that, Mable?”

“I’m not sure Irving. Some sort of alien ship? “, she’d answer. “Git me another beer while yur up.”

We’ve let go many a helium balloon and watched them float away. Some on purpose, and some not. But nothing compared to the sight of this glowing orb floating up into the clear night sky. There was something peaceful and calming about watching it drift ever higher. Tilting this way and that in the gentle breeze.

I went online first thing this morning and bought a case of them. Whenever I feel the need for zen, I’m going to write my woes on the balloon, light it up and watch my cares disappear.

Not that I have many woes. Today is my birthday. Life is good, just like those T-shirts. And I’m sitting on the deck on the lake at my brothers house. Coffee in hand watching the lake come alive.

Just like last year. The zen is still here. I still see it. I still feel it.

As my daughter I said to me yesterday, “It’s all in how you look at it, Mommy.”

Yup. She’s got that right. I asked my brother what he saw when he looks out over the lake on which he lives. He likes it here, but he's just too damn busy. He doesn’t get to spend all that much time on it. He doesn’t savor it’s beauty as often as he’d like. He doesn’t take the time to sit here under the willow and listen to the signs of life around the lake.

So I’m savoring it for him while everyone still sleeps.

I love this time of day. I love this tree. I love this lake. I even love that water skier because he is has made my déjà vu complete.

It’s good to be alive. Even though after today I might have to start lying about my age.

Footnote: Many people have asked about the sky lanterns and where to purchase them (or see them!). There are a few places that sell them, but this is the one that we sent off and it worked great. Just check here to send you to their link!


  1. Happy Birthday Nancy. It is your special day and the day for you to celebrate your very own being. I would give almost anything to be sat alongside you over looking the lake reflecting it sounds amazing.

  2. And I, right now, am savouring the beautiful peace that has settled in me after having read your post! (This makes me think of another one of your posts, where you reflect on your inner state influences your perception of your surroundings - and I agree with Boo!)

    Happy, happy birthday, Nancy! I hope you have a wonderful, memorable day... Big hugs from Prague! :o)

  3. Happy Birthday! I was just thinking about you and wondering how you were doing. Good to hear that all is well, and sparkly.

  4. Happy Birthday Nancy.

    Please accept my thanks for saving Mr. Willow Tree. There are few species of trees as evocative as the Willow.

    The boundary between land, water, and air is often a magical one... Thank you for sharing it's magic - your prose captures it quite palpably.

    And now for those birthday spanks... :)

  5. What a calming rejuvinating post! Willow trees are my fave; thanks for saving it. This house, the lake, the fireworks, it all sounds amazing.
    And what a wise daughter; wonder where she gets it from...
    Happy Birthday!! xoxox

  6. Hey Nancy! Water, trees, quiet early morning contemplation. I'm jealous. Indigo x

  7. Happy birthday, Nancy!! Sounds like an idyllic setting to spend some time...

    Good for you for getting away to somewhere beautiful!

  8. What a wonderful way to spend your birthday! It sounds heavenly there at your lake. And your brother is so lucky to have you in his life to help him see it the way you do. I would hope I would never lose the calm zen and love for a place if given the gift of having a home in such a world.
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY! And did you hear the news....seriously, a new study just came out revealing that we actually get happier with age. Isn't that nice?

  9. Happy Birthday to you! So glad you saved the willow! What a lovely way to begin the day.

  10. Happy birthday, Nancy! Willow trees are special to me too. :-)

  11. You have a lot of beauty in your life. :)

    Happy Birthday!!

  12. Well said, Oddyoddyo13. I second that. Happy Birthday, Nancy.

  13. Happy Birthday! I love how you write- the tone of your words is always perfect for whatever subject you choose. Amazing.

  14. Your insights are deep and wonderful. I loved reading this. So great that you saved that willow!

  15. I remember lying under a weeping willow in Nebraska as a young child, day dreaming. I'm not sure what else there is to do in Nebraska. The picture you painted with your words, of the weeping willow on the lake, is one of the most peaceful images I can imagine. What a wonderful way to spend a birthday. And remember - age is just a number. What matters is how you feel.

  16. You had been so quiet as of late i was beginning to worry. Glad to hear things are going so well. Your brother's home sounds like the perfect getaway. Happy Birthday, hope it is one of your best ever, you deserve it!

  17. Why would you lie about being 28? So Charles still needs a woman's touch...hmmmmm??

    Hope you had a great day! Love you~

  18. HAPPY BIRTHDAY! A lovely post :) I am very envious, the detail is exquisite and I can just imagine it...yes definitely envious...

  19. deja vu, scientifically explained as the condition where neural firing that transmit impulse to brain accidentally transmit first to long term memory and after that to short term memory, resulting a feeling that we used to have repetitious event before.

    anyway, glad to see u writing back

  20. Thank you everyone for the birthday wishes!
    When I was writing this, I didn't think when I wrote that in there...it wasn't intended to get people to start singing the dreaded Happy Birthday song in unison. But I sure did like your chorus!

    Thank you!
    (It was a truly lovely day!)



  21. A belated Happy Birthday and best wishes to you!

    You know, I don't mind getting older any longer. My opinions don't have to conform, my LOOKS certainly don't have to conform, and I feel that I have the best seat in the house watching the world evolve. It's not always pleasant, but, in my mind it is clear. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed your day.

  22. Happy Belated Birthday! Sounds like it started off wonderfully! I could hear and feel what you did just reading it. Thanks for sharing.

  23. Happy Birthday, Nancy. Your Boo is a smart cookie! This lake home sounds like your own piece of heaven. And I think a weeping willow would make it complete. I always wanted a house with a weeping willow in the yard...didn't get it, but life's still good. Thanks for this lovely reflection today. Oh, and I love the those pretty colors bursting in the night sky, glad you stopped this trip. Looks like it made it complete.

  24. Happy belated Birthday! Nothing like sitting in the quiet morning and looking at a peaceful lake. Those fireworks sound so cool! I like your idea of writing your woes on them and sending them off. I can't imagine what these look like. You'll have to send me the website so I can get an idea.

  25. Sounds like an inspirational place. I thought fireworks were legal in Ohio - everyone is always crossing the border from PA to buy the "good stuff" on OH.

  26. Happy day after your birthday! I hope you are continuing to relax.

  27. Joey's comment made me look this up....here's more information than you ever cared (or needed!) to know!

    For residents of Ohio, only sparlers and smoke type fireworks are allowed and sold. But there are places at state borders that if you are a Ohio resident you can buy them IF you sign and agree to take them out of state within 48 hours. If you are from out of state you must agree and sign to take them out of state within 72 hours.

    You have to be licensed and carry $1 million dollar insurance to shoot off any firework other than a smoke bomb. It's a 1st degree misdemeanor with a fine of $1000 and six months in jail. That includes falsifying the form, failing to take out of state and discharging.

    Apparently there are 47 places in Ohio you can buy. Grandfather clauses allow them to remain open. But no new business's can open and sell fireworks.

    Cool, huh? Does this go under the 'grass is always greener' clause?


  28. Happy Birthday Nancy. That place sounds simply Idyllic! Can I come? Your telling was so descriptive that I could close my eyes and imagine myself there, hearing the water lapping against the shore. BLISS!!! And those floating lanterns? I love our idea of writing things you want to get rid of on there and watching it float away. Fireworks are illegal here in GA too but they are legal in TN and there's LOTS of fireworks stands between us and #1's house! Thanks for the idea!

  29. Yeah... what do you see when you look at at a panorama... everything we see is a perception... do we become jaded by something we see on a daily basis?

    I certainly hope not... we lose sight of real beauty then...

    Belated Happy Birthdays!!


  30. what a wonderful way to celebrate the passing of another year. may the next one be blessed, bringing many lovely things to you.
    when we first oved to our new city I was surprised and delighted by the lovely view of the mountains in the distance and the perfect vantage poinnt by which I had to pass each day to take the kids to school and go to work. I never tired of it and delighted in seeing it, until one day i must have stopped noticing it - i suspect it was around the time I stopped noticing how stressed and over pressured i was. upon reflection it was yet another warnign sign that i was burning out... we see such things in later times. I miss that view now that we have moved away.

  31. I'm so glad you're getting some rest! Lots of spots in Michigan are lovely. I like the Petoskey area, myself.

    Colorado has a similar ban, because it's so easy to set the forests on fire. I never understood Ohio's ban, other than sheer nanny-statism. Come to Tennessee or Florida. They know how to have fun there.

  32. First. Happy Birthday.

    Second. Willows are my fav, too.

    Last. Please share the link for the paper balloons. i must have some!

  33. I love this post, Nancy! Reminds me of summers at the cabin in Minnesota. The best part was watching the reflection of the water on the ceiling of the cabin in the early morning. An awesome, Zen image.

  34. Happy birthday! Sounds like a very awesome place. Glad you were able to make time for fireworks this year. I love the Fourth of July!

  35. I haven't been around. Sorry this is late but HAPPY birthday, I love fireworks and lakes and weeping willows. Great Post...I think I'll go dream on the view...

  36. Lovely post as usual!

    We live on the river, and none of our windows have coverings. Visitors normally are amazed by our view. Their first word as they step into the house is wow! I, like you, enjoy the silent moments, and the pure beauty of nature. And yes, often I go about my day and don't notice the beautiful tapestry unfolding outside.

  37. so beautiful and calm and serene. after reading this, i don't even mind the rain so much anymore. thank you for that.

    i've got to get some of those lanterns and bring them back to set off over our lake. it sounds like bliss.


  38. Ok, I'm a little late with the birthday wishes....missed this post as I too was also out of state on vacation....

    I hope your birthday finished as good as this post made it sound as it started....

    There's something about a lake...water...the way the sky and the air, and the smells and the reflections....the way the co-mingle into magic that yes, I totally am in awe of...it inspires deep thoughts....peace, nostalgia....all good things, a birthday only adding reflection to the mix.

    I'm sure glad you saved that willow tree, as there really is no other tree like them....we had a big willow in our yard as kids we'd climb in, swing from the branches....it was as much a home to us as my smurf wallpapered bedroom was. :)

    So, Happy belated Birthday Beautiful.....

    sorry i'm late.


  39. Not sure why but I was thinking about you today. I hope everything is okay ... you haven't posted in a couple weeks.

    Happy belated birthday.

    I'll be praying that all is well in your life.

  40. Sorry I am late...Happy Birthday!
    Your whole post was so relaxing, like I was there seeing it all fo myself. Hope you had a good day.


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