I vowed to make this summer a lot better than last year’s. I started the season last year by ripping my right bicep completely off my arm on Memorial Day. Ouch. So summer was sweltering on the couch, watching the season go by with my arm tightly bound across my mid-section. And of course, too many pain medicines that made me quite a bit more disoriented than I am on a regular basis. As frightening as that actually is…At least I had my guitar to help me rehab. Other than that, summer was shot, totally shot. And if you count the days with your children as closely as I do, that was one wasted summer, time I won’t get back. Time we should have spent hiking, or kayaking or…pretty much anything other than, as my youngest puts it, “doing a rather hilarious impression of a T-rex.”

So this year, I started early. I’ve been putting serious mileage on the bike. But that’s a little too solitary. What I longed for was time with the girls. And summer is here. Let’s roll.

My eldest and I put the short boats in the water this weekend. I’m still a little gun shy about putting my big boat on the rack; nervous to really lift anything, even though it’s been a while since I recovered. No matter, the short boats were perfect for the lake. Temps were slated for the mid eighties and the humidity was nil. We were in the water before 8:30.

It’s funny, but as I watch them grow, no matter the age, I’m still fascinated by what fascinates them. This year, it’s all about her camera. So I’m looking for quiet time with her, she’s looking for the perfect shot. So be it. As long as we’re together, it doesn’t matter the agenda.

It wasn’t until we got home that it dawned on me; she has an eye for it. I’ve spent a while with her, trying to get her to understand framing the shot, but she has less patience than I do. Of course, that’s because she has the more artistic eye. She can see the shot in her minds eye, sets it up well before she gets there. Then it’s just setting the camera correctly and she’s off.

I looked at the couple of hundred pictures she took and it was weird. Usually, I’m on the camera and it’s all about the kids, in this shot, that pose, yaddi-yadda. Not so with her. She sees the beauty in things around her, no matter how insignificant it may seem.

We put in near the landing at the canoe launch, and were no more than 100 yards off shore when a Loon decided that it’d be real neat to pop up about 8 feet from her boat. It was no wonder the surprise didn’t send her over. She froze, with the exception of her fingers finding the exposure she needed, getting the focus correct and trying to steady herself in the small tippy boat. He just floated along side of her, curious, unafraid. I had to remind her that we’d need to move away, it’s the law. She got the shot anyway. I didn’t see it until we got home and dropped it into the computer. Not a bad shot if I say so myself. Untouched. She didn’t have a zoom lens and you can still see the beads of lake water on his cheek.

Hey,,howzit goin'?

Hey,,howzit goin’?

We were still about an hour out before we rounded the cove under a footbridge. We turned away from the open water to the shore and found it guarded by a sentinel of great beauty. Like his friend, he stood motionless, letting us get ridiculously close, probably 20 yards away. He didn’t leave until a noisy pair of kids paddled up beside us, excited and innocent, but still annoying anyway. He dropped his neck and took to his wings, dancing for a few steps across the smooth water before breaking up and over the tress.

Regal ambassador...

Regal ambassador…

It was still quite calm, even though we were pretty far out into the middle of the lake. We weren’t talking; I was concentrating on keeping my boat moving with its aging power plant creaking and moaning. Old bodies make weird noises. The only other noise was the gurgle under the boat as I got it up to speed; I love that sound. Nothing else to hear way out in the open water, no waves lapping, no wind, just the hiss and shush of the water breaking under the bow. Sweet. I didn’t hear her clicking away at the side of the boat, equally fascinated by the wake. I love the shot. It’s like sliding on glass when you’re out there; the water wasn’t even rippled by the wind. I felt like I was leaving tracks for those behind me, leaving footprints in an otherwise undisturbed land. Footprints that were fleeting, very little wake before the surface of the water healed the gash I had made and left no scar behind me where the wound was.

I could hear the water giggle as my boat tickled the surface of the lake...

I could hear the water giggle as my boat tickled the surface of the lake…

I hope that whatever power decides our fate and life span grants me many more opportunities to shut my mouth, open my eyes and listen to the world speak in it’s subtle, beautiful voice. And I hope he grants me the continued opportunities to share it with them, see it through their eyes and know that these moments define truly unimaginable wealth.