Wednesday, September 7, 2016

On Webb Lake

Pinch me.

We've been sleeping in our own beds for 10 days and I've uploaded close to 500 pictures, yet I'm having a hard time conjuring a single word. Webb Lake was just as we left it and exactly as I remembered it. It's such a happy place tucked deep in the woods far up north where there are more eagles than people.  I am ever grateful for its our own private lake vibe.

We're happy to be here clouds and all.

The gals.

The guys.

The week was book-ended between cool, rainy days and that felt like Mother Nature on our side. We arrived singing along to Jack Johnson and as soon as we unloaded the cars, both kids were eager to get in the lake. It was serendipitous to swim in between squalls and then under the stars on our first eve into night. One of my favorite things to do is swim in the black of night. It's the only time I jump in like I'm 8 again. Of course, I also scream like a little girl as the inky water reminds me what it feels like to be boldly alive. There's nothing like floating beneath a showy celestial's humbling and empowering at the same time. I can't say I'd have the guts to do it alone, but lucky for me someone almost always accept an invitation or challenge to swim (except for Ted...he never swims at night). 

Inaugural swim.

Not by choice exactly.

 First night fun.



The bottomless bottle that lasted all week.

I was the first one up on our first full day, which just happened to be my birthday. Another Webb Lake highlight is coffee on the screened porch. We all slowly make our way there one by one as we rise. The hummingbird feeder that used to be perched just outside the door was moved to the edge of the woods and I worried that we wouldn't see them as frequently. I had nothing to worry about. That very morning a ruby-throated beaut buzzed by the window and chirped as if in greeting. My sister-in-law and I both heard it. Later that day my brother returned the feeder to it's original spot and many hummingbirds came to visit over the week. Another morning, we first heard and then saw a massive bald eagle fly low through the woods in pursuit of a rather noisy and lucky red squirrel. The squirrel lived another day, and the eagle sat on a stunted branch as if on display. It was mesmerizing.

Morning has broken.

 Mike gave me a book of poetry on my birthday. I randomly opened up to Angels. It's my favorite poem in Oliver's Blue Horses, and he then confessed that he chose this tome for that piece unknowingly. It made the gift especially meaningful, and right then and there I knew I was going to have a beautiful day.

My love.

Fuel for my body, mind and soul.

 After a morning power walk with the girls, I felt compelled to stroll a little longer. As I snipped a few wildflowers for the table and later a watercolor still-life (painting: another vacation favorite), I spotted a sweet heart-shaped stone on the muddy trail when I wasn't even looking. I knew it was from my mom. It's all I needed from her.

It's a heart all right and she leaves them for me.

My favorite kind of bouquet. It lasted all week long.

We spent the day getting reacquainted with life at the lake, enjoying time outdoors and together. I tell was a lot to ask, but somehow we managed.

To the lake.

This is called "Magic."

She enjoyed kayaking on the quiet lake.

Appetizer anyone? (My girl would not laugh at this caption I'm afraid. Caterpillars have families too just so you know.)

I think I'm ready.

 "Dad, go! Let's see how long I can stay..."

I missed the shot where he got serious air and because of that may be unable to give me grandchildren one day.

Double smiles. A ride for two. 

So far Lil gives our first day a strong thumbs up.

Gas guy. Boat tech and driver too. Also hot tub doctor.

Soaring eagle just before he took the plunge for a fish 20 feet in front of us.

My dad and step-mom arrived to spend a couple days in time to see Teddy get up on skis. He learned to ski 5 years ago on this very lake. He hasn't had the opportunity since, but after a single try, he nailed it. By day 3, he had a new nickname: Slalom Ted. Lily got up on day 3 too with Uncle Brad's patient help in the water, and her dad's boat driving acumen. She was super proud and so happy that Grandma and Grandpa got to witness it. She graduated to the big skis and no help in the water. Next time we come, she'll drop a ski too.

Bodie arrives and has a radar for the lake.

Water babies.

Lily followed him around like a puppy.

Man and his best friend.

Slalom Ted making it look oh so easy.

Uncle Brad stood right there with Ted 5 years ago.

The seventh time was a charm. She popped out that time and every time after!

 Most nights we like to tool around the lake in search of loons and in awe of the sunset. This is our preferred way to spend happy hour, and it was a favorite of Grandma Judy's for sure. Teddy was more than happy to chauffeur us around this year. He was also a big help on the boat just so long as you kept him away from the ski rope.

Is this legal? (Almost)

 Deck hand. Very handsome, but prone to tangles.

This is right before he spilled his dad's drink. Oh wait...that was grandpa.

Lone loon. I loved hearing them call out over the lake especially in the early mornings and at dusk.

Bald eagle sighting.

 Grandma and Grandpa. This was as close as they got to the water.

B&A happy during said hour.

Ted Sharif.

Every night the sky boasted a different palette. It was nature's fireworks, and it goes without saying that these photos don't do justice to the sharp, saturated, sometimes sassy and always spectacular sky.

At the first full day's end, I was served a pretty glass of rose in the hot tub while the girls made a birthday cake and the boys started dinner played pool and cribbage. I requested vanilla cake with Miss Bit's extra scrumptious chocolate buttercream frosting and boy was it a treat. We had a celebratory dinner of perfectly grilled tenderloin, roasted fingerling potatoes, fresh green beans and delicious Stag's Leap and I felt very loved and spoiled. It was hands down one of the best birthdays I've had this decade. I was just grateful to be gathered together in such a beautiful place with my family and Frank Sinatra for the occasion.

Girls on cake.

Lily and an extra large batch of her award winning frosting. She came to the hot tub to give me a taste. Now that is love.

Guys at the grill with golf clubs, glow cups and googly eyed girl.

Afternoon pockets. The only sharks on the lake.

Porch crib.

Just the way we like it.

Happy Birthday to me! Happy indeed.

They went around the table each sharing a story about me. It was like a long toast/roast and I loved it.

After gifts (again spoiled), we took silly selfies, had a kitchen dance party that turned into a conga line (hello sound chucks), played pool, swam under the stars and the two-thirds moon and hit the hot tub because the late August northwoods air feels like fall as soon as the sun ceases setting the sky on fire. Oh, and Grandpa learned to ride the hover board. Sorry no pictures. It was a full day.

How old are you?

And many more...

We're either rocking out to Sir Duke or The Lido Shuffle here.

A little Michael Jackson or maybe Zac Brown. (Just kidding Lil Bit!) For the record, my brother did turn my son into a country music lover in 7 days.

Double fisted.

Ted is smiling because Grandpa will play with him all day and night. Grandpa's smiling because Ted will play with him at all.

I was the last one up on my birthday too. I guess I didn't want the day to end. The truth is we really set the bar high for the rest of the week, but somehow we met it every day. It was one of those vacations where each day was just as good, if not better, than the last. And yet the days shared the same relaxed rhythm. They go like this: morning quiet time on screened porch...books, paintbrushes or maybe a game, and God forbid a few devices. Other than Instagram, I stayed off the grid and never once did we turn on the television all week long. I'm the reigning Boggle champ, Grandpa was the backgammon titleholder, Ted and I were the last men standing during a 24 hour Monopoly battle that he ultimately won despite my uncanny good luck, Grandpa taught Ted how to play cribbage, and the boys had a week-long golf match going.

 Getting the morning news. Right!

Bedhead and evil eye.

Working on her watercolor masterpiece.
  My amateur version of 'Sunet on Webb Lake." Contact me if interested in purchasing. For you very good price.

Boggle tournament before breakfast.

Coffee and crib, or more like bloody's and diet cokes.

Day 1 of our Monopoly marathon.

Scorecards. Everything can and should be a competition. A mostly friendly competition.

The 90th hole.

When we are all sufficiently caffeinated, which can be the case after a single cuppa my brother's jet fuel brew, we generally get some exercise. That might be a run, a walk, a kayak ride around the lake in search of eagles, a swim, or some tennis or golf. 

 Kayak kid. We all want them now. Santa please?

 Lily wins every swimming race.

I spy a bald eagle.

After we get our sweat on, we usually head straight to the lake to cool off. 

To the lake again.

The private lake.

It's as refreshing as it looks.

  Victory splash.

Hugs too.

 This girl would live in the water if she could.

 Her happy place.

 My mom bought us these beach towels on her last lake vacation 8 years ago. I think of her whenever I wrap up in one.

I need to work on my duck lips...or not.

It might be time for breakfast or we may just throw something on the grill for lunch. One morning my brother made us all perfect camel's eyes and another Lily served us s'mores pancakes. 


 After we've refueled, we head to the lake for water sports and probably a trip to the sand bar at some point. The kids and my brother did most of the skiing. Mike did have a short run after body surfing though, and my sister-in-law and I were happy to be the spotters. We all grew to love the sea doo too. At first, Lily was rather timid and didn't want to go fast or drive, but that didn't last long. She rode that thing clear across the lake and out of view once with a perma grin plastered on her face. Luckily, we had the lake mostly to ourselves every day save for a pontoon here or a fishing boat there, or two sneaky labs who decided to steal our football during a game of catch one day.

 Doggy thieves on pier.

No wake.

Some wake.

Big wake. 

Solo and sassy on sea doo.

 Uncle B loves donuts both in the water and with his coffee.

 All week Teddy begged to play badminton at the sand bar. Finally, on the last day the wind cooperated.

Diving for birdies.

B&A tandem.

I beat her. He (Teddy) beat me...twice.

Another fearless kid on his time trial.

  It's all about the waves.

And the swag.

 The sea doo is also fun to ski behind.

This is called..."Boys and Their Toys" or "Boys Will be Boys."

Boat Babe.

 Boat Bum. I'm pretty sure he's singing..."You got a fast car I want a ticket to anywhere."

Jim at least as far as we're concerned. No wonder he never listened to us...his name is probably Bob.

 It seems that dogs adopt us when we're on vacation and we're good with that.

 Looking like a pro.

 Looking like a hotshot.

Gliding back to the beach.

 La la la.

B. outside the wake.

 Ready to drop his ski.

 And I should complain?

This is sick yo.

After an afternoon on the lake, we'll likely hit the hot tub.

 In hot tub Heaven.

 Aunt A and Lily warm up.

Did you say cocktails?

  104 feels good after 70 degree lake water.

Grandma enjoys the hot tub especially with Lily.

Before we  head back out in the boat for the sunset cruise, we get drinks and snacks. We will see and hear loons, we may see a couple deer taking a drink at the edge of the lake, and a bald eagle or two may soar by.

 Grandpa at the wheel. Buckle up!

Lily gives us a nice smooth ride.

 Father and son smiling.

 Ted's 'watch this' face.

 "Sundown you better take care..."


This is called Amen Alleluia.

The golden hour.

 Still burning bright.

Sun worshiping.


Zen Dog.

The rest of the night will involve games, dinner prep and eventually dinner at like 10 o'clock, singing and dancing, hot tubing and swimming in no particular order. We eat and drink well on vacation that's for sure, and on the last night we had our second Chopped Championship in an effort to use up the refrigerator full of delicious leftovers. The kids went head to head in the dessert round and that was my favorite not only because they got so into it, but also because they killed it. Lily made Molten Lava Cakes with a Peanut Butter Cup Frosting, and Ted served us a S'mores Brownie Pie. Honorable mentions were B&A's riblet quesadilla and our pizza grinder. I hope to never again eat my margarita rice.

 Her show would be called "Cooking with a Smile."

 His would be called "Do What I Say Not What I do."

A tale of two desserts. A delicious tale.

Thank you to A for getting the ribs and Mike for rubbing, baking and grilling them to fall off the bone perfection.

One memorable meal. There were many others.

When I wake on Saturday, it's to a cool, grey day and I feel happy to be heading home. I'm ready. My body is tired, my mind is relaxed and my heart is full to the brim. I'm ready to eat salads, sleep in my own bed and see my boys. On the way home, Lily and I embark on a movie marathon and for us, the trip is a breeze.

 This is Peanut curled up on my nightshirt just before we left for the week. It broke my heart all week long.

It was a triple header: Dirty Dancing, Footloose and Out of Africa. (Mom's choice.)

Broody lake before departure.

We say goodbye to Webb Lake and I say a little prayer that goes something like this: long live all the fun we had and God bless all these people I love forever and ever.

Peace out. Amen.

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