Nighttime in the House by Lake of the Woods
At 10:30 PM, the twilight in this place on the northern edge of the United States has finally slipped into darkness. A cool wind chased away the humidity and–for now at least–the mosquitoes. No other night sounds yet. Later perhaps, an owl, a whippoorwill or the deer that sidle into the clearing to graze, long-legged and graceful as ballerinas. I sit at the table where my mother and I used to drink coffee, talk, play Trivial Pursuit, Scrabble and do mano-a-mano crossword challenges. The house, even eight years after her death, contains mementoes of her passion, her loves and her whimsy: a book titled “Runaway Slaves: Rebels on the Plantation;” a moonlit winder landscape painted by her husband Parry, now gone too; a wooden butterfly she painted blue and green adorning a photo of her striding along the beach of this massive lake. Her ashes lie in the earth outside, nurturing the roots of a white pine my brothers have surrounded with a fence to keep the deer from nibbling its needles. Around it, dragonfly sentinels that change colors in the darkness. My ultra-rational mother might have found them silly, but I like how they flash on and off, keeping watch. This place inspired her to write and has the same effect on me. The quiet broken only by sounds of animals and birds calms the mind. Memories and words enter through the open windows and find their way onto the page. Tomorrow I will drive into town for the funeral of a beloved childhood friend. Tonight I wish only that these trees, the lake, the birds will survive us all and accompany someone else sitting here late on a summer night.