With an entire afternoon ahead of us, a plunge in the lake was inevitable. After a morning of working in the sun, it was desirable as well.
We enjoyed our lunch and the regular stupor afterward, but the sirens called, and soon we were packing the cooler and changing into our swimming gear. The surface of the lake had been collecting solar energy for many weeks now, and I was confident that the water would be warm and welcoming. When I stumbled down the rocky hillside to the water’s edge, I thought about simply diving directly into the lake, and I might have had I not been wearing a ball cap, which would have been knocked from my head. Then it might end up on the bottom of the lake, never to grace my head again. Such things must be considered.
So I waded in, and I could feel the warmth of the water wrapping around my legs as I moved deeper into the tea-colored water. Soon I was up to my shoulders, and then the ground dropped away from my feet and I was swimming. The water was soothingly warm, and only my strongest kicks brought up any cold water from the deep.
My swimming priorities are all wrong when I first enter the water. I can see Roundrock from a new angle when my head is at water level, and so I want to look around. Unfortunately, having left my glasses in the truck so they didn’t end up on the bottom of the lake, never to grace my head again, I had to contain my examinations to those things relatively near.
I paddled over to the stretch of broken ledge on the south side of the lake. Normally I am standing on this crumbling rock, looking down upon it. Or it is covered in water so I don’t see it at all. But this afternoon it was just at head height and so I could float along beside it and see what there was to see. What I saw were a million fragmented bits of ledge all wedged together, and each crack looked like a potential leak site. This is a realistic concern, and the fact that the new sustained water level has consistently been just below this ledge suggests that the concern may be valid. So this may be the focus of future Bentonite work. Hmmm.
Then I thought I would take the opportunity to examine the carving of our initialsÂ I had made in one of the boulders that sit in ten feet of water when the lake is full. In a similar way, I am either standing on this boulder when I want to see the initials, or they are underwater. But on this afternoon, I could again float beside them and study them to my heart’s content. Which I did, though there wasn’t so much to study. The carved initials were still there, of course. Time underwater had given them a bit more contrast than when I had first gouged them out of the white limestone, and after I had splashed a little water on them just because, I floated back out to the center of the lake where Libby waited.
There wasn’t much else to examine. The face of the dam was growing over with scubby green things, which wasn’t bad since it would help prevent erosion until the water rose to that level again. I found that silt is lining the bottom of the lake, making all of the sharp rocks that were originally there a little easier to tread upon. (And, I hope the silt is helping to seal the leaks. I’m told that it can, though not as well as Bentonite, but I don’t have to pay for the silt, nor do I have to apply it, and it seems to be going down more evenly and more universally than the Bentonite I manage to cast from the shore.) When my feet could touch the bottom, I tried to make a mental map of the lakebed, but I’m not sure how well I did or how well I needed to do.
But, you see,Â I was busy with the wrong priorities. I was still trying to manage my woodsy wilderness, and that’s not the best use of the lake. Libby, of course, was far ahead of me. She was floating about, swimming occasionally, feeling the sun on her face, floating a bit more. And it wasn’t until I finally abandoned myself to the warm, weightless, watery wombÂ that I began to use the lake properly.
Lake Marguerite provides its greatest service when it allows us to wash away our cares and concerns and simply exist in mindless drifting. No agendas. No projects. No schedules. Simply floating. Better than leaving my watch at home, the floating hours can pass without heed and the mind can restore itself. We might track the sun across the sky and make a guess at the hour, but mostly we don’t care. We just swim about, suspended in the warm water,Â until we are finished swimming about. And then one or the other of us recollects that we are actually land animals and that the world of responsibility awaits our return. With some reluctance we paddle back to the shore where we left our towels and begin to grow familiar again with gravity and the weight of the world.
During our float, we could hear a heavy machine coursing back and forth beyond our trees a mile or so away. We assumed it was Good Neighbor Brian, busy mowing his meadow, and that we would soon see him and DebbieÂ coming down our hill to join us in the water. But they never appeared, and as we drove out at the end of the day, we paused by his land and peered across the tall grass, but we saw no sign of him.
The green mound you see in the photo above is the new island (Gefarinsel) we had pushed into place when we had the dam repair work done several years ago. Lake Marguerite should, it its prime, reach all of the way around this island and beyond to surround the even larger island you cannot see from this shot. I have seen Gefarinsel (Isla de Peligro) surrounded by water a couple of times, but I have yet to see the entire lakebed covered with water.
- Bats bear young this month.
(P.S. I don’t think any bats are bearing young in my house this month. We’ve gone two days now without a sighting.)