North America is under a heat wave today. Everyone is retreating to shady spots or cooling off in one of the lakes and rivers. It’s been a long time since I was able to spend all day in Summerville Lake. On days like today I wouldn’t spend any more time on the surface than was needed to take the next breath. There was no scuba gear and very seldom did we even use snorkels. We were skin divers. When it’s 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32C) there’s nothing like the cool lake bottom. I could only go down about 10 feet or so but that was enough to escape being baked in the sun. I was one of those people who could open his eyes under water and still see pretty well. Occasionally I would find an old fishing lure with the hooks rusted away or a water toy of some kind that was left behind. Out beyond the buoys that marked the swimming area the boats would idle by. Under water the screws make a clicking noise and I got to a point where I could listen to the clicks and gauge how far away the boat was. As I got older I would swim from one side of the lake to the other once more surfacing only to take a breath. Sometimes a small fish would be curious about the stranger in the water and nip the hair on my legs. We would tease each other that the piranha were hungry. Perhaps at some point I can afford an underwater camera and I’ll be able to take you with me on a swim through the lake.
This one is the reflection of a cloud on Summersville Lake. I snapped the photo on a whim and it’s one of the first photos I ever took with a quality camera. What I like the most about this particular image is contrast in harmony. The cloud is a symbolic representation of the element of air floating on water. In order to get the image I had to point my lens away from the sky. The photo shows two forms of water in the same place at the same time. The cool blue-green color of the lake belies the near tropical weather we had the day I took the photo.
Nature loves balance. We tend to think of world in terms positive and negative depending on how something impacts our lives. Sometimes I like to think of these situations more in terms of ebb and flow. A balanced life will experience both sides of the equation. The old adage is that “in every life a little rain must fall.” I assure you that Summerville Lake is drained every year and that without a lot of rain there would be no peaceful days floating on that beautiful blue-green water. This is the simple concept that pulls me though the tough times. There will be a wonderful calm after the storm. Balance will eventually bring the nice things back around in my direction.
I think everyone has had that feeling that they just don’t fit in at some point. In fact I’d say it’s multiple points for most of us. The temptation is to forsake one’s individuality for sake of the crowd. But isn’t that lying? It’s one thing to be polite and respectful towards other opinions but it another thing altogether to fein total agreement. What’s more is that when the truth eventually comes out the others in the group will feel betrayed. A true friendship can handle some individualism and if it can’t then it was never a true friendship in the first place. It was only mimicry.
Being your own person is often difficult. There’s going to be conflict and in today’s world a large portion of population is under the misunderstanding that disagreement and hate are the same thing. They most certainly are not. God could have created a world of clones where everyone is exactly alike. Everyone would have the same opinions, the same ideas and the same looks. How boring would that be? There would also be no fresh ideas, no variety and no excitement. I’m starting to meander here so I’m just going to get to point. Don’t be afraid to stand out. Sure there’s going to be people who don’t accept you because they can’t handle anyone who doesn’t mirror them but do you really want to burden yourself with such a shallow person? Just be yourself.
What you do in life matters. Our actions and words create ripples that travel outward and interact with world around us. Try to make a splash in the world but make it a positive splash. Eventually, those tiny waves will rebound back to you.
When I was a kid I was fascinated by petroglyphs. Being of the Indiana Jones generation, I wanted to be the one who cracked the code and uncovered ancient secrets. I just knew that there had to be a golden idol at the bottom of a cave close by. I would study the markings on the cliff and I could even see the hunters stalking some strange dinosaur. (Left side of the image behind the small bush. ) This had to be a map! Right? There’s a pod of dolphins in the center. And strange symbols throughout the whole thing!
The unfortunate thing about gaining knowledge is the loss of the adventure. What we see here is pretty common in my area. Painted Sandstone. The stone was formed when different colored mud ( in laymen terms ) came together and mixed, then turned to stone. The result was these wonderful patterns in the canyon wall of Summersville Lake that resemble some prehistoric record. There’s other spots like this and even some real petroglyphs but I haven’t found one that is as realistic as the one here. If you find yourself in the Summerville Lake area the best way to see them is by boat.
The late summer sun turns the lake into a fire. In the distance I can hear the crickets chirping. A lonely bullfrog sings out in his booming bass voice as the night birds add a chorus of songs and the nightly concert begins. There’s the occasional splash of a fish leaping from the water to catch an insect that flew too close to the surface of the lake. The smell of the fire drifts in as kids roast their marshmallows on freshly cut poplar or birch twigs. I’ll ease back in my chair and take a sip of coffee. The flavor mixes well with the oak in the fire pit. As the sunset fades into the velvety sky the fire in the lake is replaced by silver. Throughout the campground the voices of the people begins to soften. Some campers are already asleep with expectations of being out on the water before the dawn. Scuba divers have told stories about catfish large enough to swallow a human being and each fisherman is convinced that they have the secret to hauling it in. Other campers are setting close to the red glow from the embers of the fire. They’re telling ghost stories about the civil war soldiers who once camped in that very same spot. As I finish my coffee I look out across the campground. Tents glow from the lanterns inside. They look like little hot air balloons preparing for take off. Silhouetted against outside of tents the shadows move on the inside as they turn in for the night. A few of them seem to merge as the lanterns go out one by one. I’m not sleepy. I pour the last of the coffee into my tumbler and stir the embers of my fire. The sparks rise into the air. As I watch the sparks rise and disappear I notice little greenish lights flickering in trees. The fireflies are putting on a light show if their own as the males signal for a mate to answer with the matching code. My tired eyes drift from the trees to the stars above. The coffee is gone and the fire is almost out. It’s time to take in one last breath of the night air as the dew falls. I crawl into my tent and sleep deeply. That’s camping on Summerville Lake.
Remember that trip to the lake?
Remember the innocence of our summer vacations? We spent warm days playing in the cool water. Remember the coins? They were not real money. They were aluminum disks leftover from a project but to us they were real pirate silver lost in a storm and found by two boys. We take turns tossing them in the water and then diving into the deep. I remember how the water got cooler as we dove deeply into murky depths. The real treasure we found was the adventures and the memories of Summer on the lake.
This image was taken at the Salmon Run portion of Summersville Lake in Nicholas County West Virginia.