As we’re staring out at the water, it’s amazing how dead calm it is - like a swimming pool - and despite the fact that this week is among the very busiest on the lake, only a few boats have passed since I got home at 5:00pm. The thing is, when the forecast shows rain - and especially when it’s right - people just don’t go out. Not just when it’s raining; they tend to write off the boat for the whole day. But if you’re paying attention and READ the forecast discussion, you’ll know that the showers will stop. And THAT is precisely when you go out.
From the porch we can see across the water to the far shore just about 300 yards away. It’s hazy; you can see clouds of mist just lingering around the treetops, and the far shore is almost blurry in the dim light. Around 8:30 I looked out and noticed a little breeze. Not a minute later I could see the far shore clearly, even though it was darker - the air had cleared up a bit and it was drier, as predicted by the forecast if you know what a dewpoint is. The clouds were lifting and pushing off to the east. Here comes the dry air, slowly but surely.
We went out in the boat and the nearly full moon was rising, in fact it had already risen high enough to illuminate the landscape around the lake with its blue-yellow glow. Some spotty high clouds acted almost like a lampshade; very few stars were visible as the remaining haze was lit by the moon, obscuring the deeper sky where the stars would be. But looking back to the west, we could see it was clearer. About 3 miles out, we stopped. There was not a breath of wind on the water. You could have lit a match and let it burn down to your fingertips. Total silence, utter calm.
I stood on the swim deck of my boat for probably close to an hour, with the water lapping against my feet. My friend and I each had a cigar, and the smoke was just lifting around us, going nowhere. This must be what it’s like to smoke a cigar indoors, only better. All the time I could see a clear gradient from hazy to clear as I looked left - west - and back across to my right - to the east. We were literally watching the front approach, but it was coming so slowly that it didn’t disturb the surface of the lake. Clouds up high could be see to be moving against the backdrop of a few brighter stars and of course, the moon. The air up there was changing already, but down here we were still in the eddy.
The Perseid meteor shower was also at its peak last night, and due to all the added light of the moon and opacity of the clouds, we didn’t see many. Still, there were a few that were so prominent we could see them anyway. Sometimes just out the corner of your eye. There can be one visible every minute on a clear moonless night.
And all this time, I think we saw two other boats.
That is to say, on a 7,000 acre lake during its busiest weeks of the year, on a spectacular night with no wind, the whole lake bathed in light and meteors streaking up the sky... no one was out there. That’s not to say no one was out in some other cove, somewhere on the lake; I’m sure there were a handful of others out there. But it amazes me how few people will make the effort to get out there after dark. It’s a magical, beautiful place. Being outside in the dark can be scary, but being in the middle of a huge expanse of open space in the middle of a densely-forested state is liberating and exhilarating, relaxing and rejuvenating. We also had beer.
All you have to do is pay attention to the weather, both near and far, and the reward is a scene like no other. An expanse of water whose property values are eye-watering, whose exclusivity has made it nearly impossible for “regular folks” to even access the water, despite the State’s best attempts at maintaining public access. And on a night like last night, it felt like we owned the place. There wasn’t another human for 1/2 mile in any direction, certainly not one who had a clue what they were missing by sitting inside, scrolling through facebook on their cellphones, or whatever.
Get out there and explore the world, people. It’ll pay back in immeasurable ways.
Oh, and no pics because a) they never come out from a moving boat even on the calmest nights and b) I go out to experience the night, I don’t want to mess with a camera.