Ahh, October. The sweet smell of the neighbor's fireplace releasing huge plumes of noxious smoke into the air and the steady downfall of leaves preparing yet another back breaking job for my husband.
Could it get any more depressing than fall? Sure, the crisp sunny days are a delight, and the prospect of fresh apples and toasted pumpkin seeds is great. I especially like the sales on 2 lb. bags of mini-Three Musketeers bars and snack size Reeses Peanut Butter Cups.
But let's be honest. Does anyone really enjoy the prospect of the approaching winter? Daylight is dwindling quickly, and in a few weeks we'll be lucky to have 3 hours of real sunshine every day. Those lovely piles of leaves that the kids are playing in need to be raked, or they'll turn into cement when the first snow falls. (And I still haven't weeded the garden this summer, so the chances of getting the leaves up are pretty grim.) And while the sun is shining, don't be fooled. The temperature has dropped 10 or 70 degrees since Labor Day.
So I'm preparing for hibernation. I've pulled out all of my flannel pajamas; in fact, I bought two very nice pair of velour pajamas in the spring, when they were on sale. I've stocked up on teabags and popcorn, and found my fuzzy slippers.
And, just for you, I'm back on blogger.
Because it was such a boring summer (read: stuck in the house writing and thinking about cleaning and redecorating) I didn't get to enjoy the summer like I would have liked. Sure, I went and sat in the driveway in my bathing suit while the dog splashed around in the plastic wading pool (oh, the luxury of middle class America) but truth be told that gets boring very quickly.
Until a few years ago, we used to spend most of the summer at my inlaws cottage on the lake. It was a simple weekend retreat, nothing fancy but a great getaway all the same. In order to have running water, for example, someone needed to swim under the dock, wearing goggles and a mask, and hook up the hose that allows the lake water to run freely through the cottage taps. But there was electricity and even television reception.
Because they also have a cabin in the hills that has running water, all of my inlaws opted for that retreat instead of the lake "house". Being the rugged lake rats that we are, we preferred to haul buckets of lake water to flush the toilet and bring our own drinking water. The trade off for that hard work was hours and hours of sunshine sitting on the neighbor's deck (he let us use his deck in exchange for using our basement to store his water toys, which we in turn borrowed at will), reading books and fishing, just watching the boats, listening to the birds, relaxing and working on a killer tan.
But that fun changed a few years ago when my inlaws sold the cottage (something about paying taxes for a property no one used anymore). The neighbor wasn't too keen on sharing his deck when we didn't have anything to offer in return, so we resorted to the plastic wading pool and going to the public beach.
On Labor Day weekend, it occurred to me that I hadn't made one trip to the beach all summer, despite the fact that for months I had been pining for the warm sand between my toes. So I packed up my beach accessories and headed to the lake.
In Rochester, we have the good fortune to be surrounded by a myriad of lakes - in fact, we live on the Great Lake Ontario with the famous Finger Lakes all within driving distance.
Lake Ontario, while beautiful, is potentially hazardous to your health, owing to all of the chemicals pumped into it by the companies that also brought us cameras and copiers. And even if you wanted to just sit in the sun, the stench from the rotting seaweed would be so overwhelming you'd have to stay in the car with the windows rolled up. (Maybe I'm exaggerating ... or not ...).
Instead, I headed out to Canandaigua Lake, where for a mere $2 admission you can spend your afternoon on a clean beach, with a lovely bathhouse with lockers and flushing toilets, and concession stands.
I paid my $3 (increased admission) and set my chair in a relatively quiet spot, where I was immediately showered with sand from obnoxious little children running to the shore to fill their pails with water, which they then dripped on me as they returned to their sand castle. I tried glaring at the parents, but apparently most parents with small children think that it's ok to let their kids stand over strangers and drip on them.
I moved farther away, to the "no lifeguard on duty" area. No kids playing, almost no one even occupying the beach. For about 10 minutes, I enjoyed the quiet of the lake, the gulls calling and the waves lapping as I closed my eyes and soaked up the sun.
Then the lifeguard climbed into his chair and announced the section open for swimming.
Immediately, two very large women in sequinned bathing suits beached themselves almost on top of me, despite the fact that the entire section was almost empty. One set up her chair so that she was sitting at my feet, and when she sat down she cast a shadow that covered my entire chair and reached almost to my car. The other spread out a blanket the size of my living room carpet and planted herself next to me. Their dozen kids began to build a sand castle and moat around my chair, shaking water and sand on me with every movement. I opened my eyes to find one of them standing over me, picking his nose and staring at me.
I considered asking them to move (I was there first, after all), but something told me it might be dangerous to mess with these two bathing beauties so I just lugged my chair to the farthest corner of the beach and resettled.
Within minutes, two more children began digging holes around me. Sand was flying in all directions and my patience was at an end.
I had now been at the beach two hours. I'd read 2 pages in my book, moved my chair three times, gotten wet several times (once when I waded into the water, the rest from dripping sand pails) and been covered in sand despite the fact that I never actually touched the sand myself.
I packed up my gear and headed home, where Natasha the Wonder Dog had been waiting for me to fill her wading pool.
In January, I'm going to Hawaii. I can't wait to sit on the beach and have little Hawaiin children flinging sand at me. At least it'll be something exotic.