Monday, February 20, 2006

My Sizzling Summer Heaven

Beads of sweat ran down my face as I trekked through the pine trees that dotted Lake Bruin's banks. The tall pines did little to cool the Louisiana air in the summer time. The stifling humidity was so high that it was like breathing water. Even the homemade strawberry popsicle that I brought from home only helped a little. My tongue and lips froze from the sugary-sweet frozen ice, but that was the only thing that was even the least bit cold. My bathing suit stuck to me like a second skin. This kind of sweltering heat was normal so I didn't think about it much.

A rough, splintery pier jutted out into the lake. As I stepped onto the pier, I noticed the bream jumping in the shallow water coves around the Cypress knees. The Cypress trees resembled old Indian chiefs standing in knee-deep water; the Spanish moss hanging from the branches blew in the wind like their old gray beards. The lake air welcomed me to my second home. There was a pleasant freshness in the air that, strangely enough, smelled like the combination of mud and fish.

The afternoon sun reflected from the silver tin roof of the boat house, which was connected to the pier. I climbed up the ladder to the roof, spread my blue Bugs Bunny beach towel very quickly, and laid down in the sun.

Starcraft ski boats with Evinrude motors raced up and down the middle of the lake with skiers tagging along behind. I heard the egrets and mallards calling each other in their own special ways. I saw the catfish splash in the brown, murky waters below me. Kids from neighboring camps laughed and jumped from piers on each side of me. Barbeque pits smoked and smelled deliciously of spicy sausages.

After lying in the sun for a while, I threw my beach towel to the pier floor and dove from the roof into the dark water. The water and I became one. It got darker and colder as I continued to swim toward the bottom of the lake. My feet touched a place where it felt like wet feathers tickling my feet. Really, it was soft, slimy mud. Then almost instinctively, I flip-flopped and began to rise to the surface.

Over and over, I climbed the ladder to the roof and dove into the lake. Even though no one else was around, I was not alone. On Lake Bruin, I was never lonely. I had the Cypress Indian chiefs, the mallards, the egrets, and the catfish. When the sun started to set on the other side of the lake, I could hear a voice calling me. It could have been the willows or the crickets, but most likely, it was Daddy. I pretended it was the crickets and ignored it. I was in no hurry to leave because I was in heaven.