The Art of Living by the Lake

two metal lawn chairsText and photo by Janet Grace Riehl, copyright 2013

I lived  in Northern California’s Lake County for a decade (1997 – 2007) . Since I moved to St. Louis in 2007, I trek back  to one of my heart homes at least once a year to rejuvenate.  I  visit friends, and reacquaint myself with lake, creek, and ocean. It’s oyster season, too, and that doesn’t hurt a bit. It’s a feast of friendship and food. I relax more each day into the rolling rhythm  of living by the lake–especially in summer.

What is the art of living by the lake?  A vintage picture from the 1950s  hangs on my wall with a  group of friends practicing this art. They sit on the porch of a log cabin waiting for the last of their party to dock their boat and join them.

Three  wait.  The ladies wear sundresses.  The blond must be the hostess.  She stacks records on the record changer.

The host comes out with a tray of beers in fluted glasses.  Only the three men drink beer.  They all sit by lantern light.  The brunette sits with her back to us.  And, my, what a back it is.  At this time of day, at dusk, her backless sundress will soon be a moon dress as it slides into undress.

The man in the red shirt waves at the fourth couple just docking their boat. The woman on the dock waves back while her man ties up the motor boat.  The arriving couple walks beneath the promenade of tall oak trees on the cobblestone path and gambols up the stairs to meet their friends for an evening of relaxation.

What is the mythology represented here?  A land with no cares.  A place to rest, relax, drop all worries and enjoy the good life of scrumptious lunches, civilized afternoon teas, memorable dinners with friends. It’s the lure of paradise.

When the moon shines on the lake, nothing could be finer.  The soft glow ripples over the water. It’s a lake of  illusion as dreams of paradise float by so fast that not even the lake can slow them down.

Writing prompt? Start with an image and see where it goes.


Learn more about Janet’s work at Village Wisdom for the 21st Century ( Creating connections through the arts and across cultures.

9 responses to “The Art of Living by the Lake

  1. We spent our summers by a lake in Northern Wisconsin. I remember the rush of getting ready for the trip being gloriously offset by the calm beauty or lakeside mornings and the fun of afternoon play in the water. I love how you brought the photo alive with your words, Janet!

  2. Dear Janet,

    Thank you so much for this lovely word picture, this slice of life that brought tears to my eyes. My heart home, too, is lakes and woods, in NH. But where you have friends, I have solitude, but it served the same purpose. Now, I can only go back there in memory. This brings sadness, yes, but at least I have that memory for comfort and a feeling of peace.

    Thank you again. And I do like your stories of you and your father and his Land and how he lives his life, and that you have arranged your life to be there for him. I was with my mom for the last three years of her life, and though the first year was rather rocky, I never regretted it. I had to come, she would never have come to me, or even told me that she needed anything.


    Jean Erler

  3. Dear Janet,
    I’m happy to be one of those friends you meet with on your annual trips. I see you creating an increasingly rich and varied vacation as your net of friends widens and as you take solace in the beauty around here. I hope it will sustain you for another year but, if not, come on back, please.

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