Our fall break adventure was so lovely, but it was ending. Time to go home. There were so many memories packed into just a couple of sunny days—a crackling campfire with sausages roasting, boat rides in a wind so vigorous that the lake’s bristling whitecaps rocked us around, determining our course. In a few rounds of biking, I panted to catch up with Buddy and Sis and declined to waste breath responding when they hollered Come On! from the top of the hill. They taught me new games, their favorites, and it marked a new season when I had to accept defeat at the hands of a child born when I had already lived half a century. It was all enough to summon tears when closing time was already upon us, but there was nothing for it but to trudge to the car with the first load, dump it into the trunk, and petulantly slam the lid.
Returning to my room to fetch Load 2, I could have turned either way, one option toward the gravel driveway and main entrance of the lovely old wooden lodge, the other toward the outside steps, closer to the little lake whose grassy shore was just a few dozen steps downhill from the parking lot. Something told me to turn toward another view of the water, utterly quiet at this early hour, its flat surface undisturbed, even by fish or those who pursue them. It was a chance to drink in one more look, just for a moment.
So, feeling blue about leaving and heading home? Something asked. Wishing it wasn’t over so soon? Thinking you needed just a few more days’ respite from these crazy, unpredictable times? Before you go, here’s a parting gift, to help you remember an interlude when happy days broke through the clouds. Stand right there for a second, right where you are. Don’t move, and Watch This.
As I stood still, watching, the sun inched just high enough to launch the show. Out on the water a spectacular display of miniature fireworks erupted, scores and scores of tiny rockets of light bouncing off the surface in silent bursts, exploding and dancing as though choreographed, heralding the climb of the sun and the coming of the day. On and on it went, flash after burst after flash, as I watched in amazement.
Instinctively (I regret to admit), I patted my pocket for my phone, imagining the satisfaction of a little video, a few seconds of recorded evidence to watch again later and remember. But the pocket was empty. What’s this? Something asked. Left your phone in the room? You’ll just have to take this gift with you the old-fashioned way. Stand here long enough to burn the image in memory. Watch with every sense and savor it, let it root and grow in your mind and heart, where you can take it anywhere you go, and you don’t have to push a button or charge a battery to summon it later. Add it to that list of Signs That Appear When You Need Them Most. You’re not keeping a list of those? Something asked, incredulous. Well, you can start one, today.
Gradually, as the sun continued its morning ascent, the fireworks fizzled, transforming into twinkling flickers on the water, a carpet studded with alluring sequins for an early fall celebration. Finally, the flickers also vanished, merging into a powerful pool of light crossing the surface of the lake from one woody green shore to the other.
I wish the kids had been here to see this, I said out loud, to no one, as I turned away from my solitary spot on the little green hillside. Don’t worry about the kids, Something answered, kindly. They’ll have their own memories of the trip–you can count on that. This gift was for you, for this particular moment. Feeling better? I thought so. Time to hit the road.