Posts Tagged ‘Beaver Lake’

I love Beaver Lake on a hot Sunday afternoon. Actually, I love the lake most of the time, but there’s something especially nice about Sundays.
I like to go out in the hottest part of the day and do just a little yard work. With the weather we’ve had around here lately, there really isn’t much yard work to do. We haven’t even mowed the lawn in weeks because it’s been so hot and dry. But there’s always a few weeds to pull, a couple of buckets of water to dump on the compost pile, some stray trash to pick out of mulch in front. I like to get all hot and sweaty and then walk down to the dock by myself.
Sundays are quieter than Saturdays but there’s still stuff to watch on the lake. One of the neighbors is working on a boat. Somebody’s grand kids are swimming in the cove. Out in the main part of the lake, water skiers and tubers are pulled by and there’s always one sail boat somewhere between me and the horizon.
When we go down to the boat on Saturdays, we drag down coolers and carriers, towels and cover-ups. We meet friends and trade side dishes. Going out on a Saturday is production that’s planned days in advance. I love going out on Saturday and cooking elaborate meals on the tiny gas grill. But I also love walking down the path on a Sunday with just a towel and an insulated mug. I love letting down the ladder on the front of the dock and climbing aboard an air mattress.

From my air mattress I can watch the neighbor working on his boat. I can watch him put up his tools and stop to talk to another neighbor checking the dock. I can watch the tubers gliding on the edge of the own private wakes. I can watch a sail boat lazily tacking back to the marina and listen to the kids I may or may not even see as they celebrate the lake and the wonders of summer.
I suspect the neighbors think I’m a little crazy when I saunter past them all alone with a towel and an insulated mug. Sometimes I leave something on the boat on Saturday so I have an excuse to go down there on Sunday, but even when I know they all think I’m crazy, I still go down. I love Beaver Lake on a Sunday.

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Note: I had this ready to post before all the bad weather news of the last few weeks. So I feel like I have to say, I know exactly how lucky I am to be safe and dry this spring and able to whine about missing t.v. shows.

I still have two brand new flashlights hidden in my office because of the ice storm warning we had in January or was it December? I kept hearing it over and over on T.V. and I knew I should pretty much ignore the warning and continue with my life, but in the end I gave in and bought flashlights, emergency candles and, for some reason, bread and milk. But I was embarrassed by my gullibility, so I hid the flash lights and candles and put the bread in the freezer. Eventually we threw out the milk. With no kids at home, we use very little milk these days.
Is it just me, or have television weathermen become a little bit hysterical lately? It might be a regional thing, or maybe it’s just the “chief meteorologist” at the station we tend to watch, but we’re getting more and more warnings of more and more weather disasters these days, but I don’t see where the weather has changed much.
This week it’s the tornadoes. I totally understand the devastation caused by tornadoes and I do like knowing when it’s possible for one to come my way, but really, tornadoes are not that common here by Beaver Lake and I’m get a little sick of preparing my safe spot. I don’t understand why I can’t just watch “Gray’s Anatomy” in peace.
I didn’t understand tornadoes when we first moved south. There were many things I didn’t understand when we first moved south, including some of the language, but that’s another whole story. I grew up hearing stories about hurricanes and every now and then we would have a hurricane watch. Hurricanes don’t move that fast and we could watch them coming up the coast and have plenty of time to prepare. Although there was a time or two when people actually reached the taping of the windows phase, in my 20 plus years on the New England coast there were no actual hurricanes. I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I was always a little disappointed when the watches were canceled and all we got was a lot of rain.
So we moved to central Kentucky, into a little house that had kind of grown up around a travel trailer, in a little neighborhood where we didn’t know a soul and I started hearing about tornadoes. At first every time there was a tornado watch, I took the dog and went to our safe spot which happened to be a walk in closet. Even I knew that the little house/trailer really had no safe spots if an actual tornado came through, so I used to cover us up with the foam camping mattress and read a book by the light of the big flash light until I thought the watch had lifted. One afternoon I was hiding out in there when there was a knock on my door and I crawled out to find the neighbors kids selling school band candy.
“Don’t you know about the tornado watch?” I asked. They just looked at me blankly, obviously wondering what I had been doing in the closet in the middle of the day. Later I learned the difference between a watch and a warning.
The first time we ever had an actual warning the time when the tornado touched down less than a mile away and destroyed the drive-in theater and all the neighbors rushed to the one house on the street with a basement and rode out the storm there, I was on the telephone. I was talking long distance, completely oblivious to the tornado warning.
Since then, It seems like the difference between a watch and a warning has blurred. Lately, we have a lot more warnings then we have tornadoes and I think that’s a problem. These days our safe spot is much more comfortable. Our basement family room has a big television and a couch, but I still don’t go down for every warning and never for a watch. It’s just not worth it.
Yet, for no reason I can think of, I still get sucked in by the weatherman’s hysteria. I got up and checked my hidden flashlights when they preempted “Gray’s Anatomy” last week and even after I switched to the Joplin channel to avoid the non-stop emergency weather information, I found myself switching back to check every few minutes. Was I even a little bit disappointed when the “softball size hail” never materialized?
Now I’ve lived more of my life in the tornado zone than the hurricane zone and I have never, ever seen a softball size hail stone. I’ve never even seen golf ball size hail. The other night we had about one minute of mothball size hail. It’s not that I want my cute little red car damaged; it’s just that I suspect there’s been some hail inflation by our chief meteorologist lately. How come the big hail is always in the area, but never close enough for me to take one of those pictures of a hail stone and a baseball?
O.K., I understand. I don’t want softball size hail or tornadoes. I don’t devastation or even danger. But I’m getting a little tired of watching weather coverage instead of “Gray’s Anatomy” and I don’t want to have to inventory my emergency supplies every few days. Next time, could we please wait for something to happen before we all get hysterical?

Although we didn't have any dangerous weather, we definitely got our share of rain!

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The battle begins anew every year about the time the last of the snow has melted and the first really warm day has arrived. There was a time in my life when that first warm day was spent out in the garden spot, turning over the soil that would provide the vegetables we would eat all summer. In truth, I only had a big vegetable garden for about four years when we lived in Kentucky and didn’t have children, but somehow if felt much longer. It felt like the kind of thing people had always done and would always do, but then we moved to Arkansas and left all that rich, muddy soil behind.
In Arkansas, I put the energy I had used to grow baskets of juicy tomatoes and bushels of squash into the front yard although I don’t know why. Each spring I battle the rocks, the trees, the dogs and the sporadic rains in an effort to have an actual lawn.
When we first bought this house I looked at the front yard and tried to analyze the problem. First, there’s way too much shade. The house faces east and it shades a big section of the yard itself. Then there are the giant oak trees that shade another big section. A battle plan was needed.
So I drafted the husband and the middle child, bought a bunch of mulch and gravel and landscaping timbers and created a planter box and a gravel walk that should have solved the problem of the heavy shade in front of the house. We put down that black screen stuff that’s supposed to keep out weeds and below that I actually laid out chicken wire to keep the dogs from digging up the black screen stuff. Then we added pretty brown gravel and a few flat paving stones leading to the front door. Now the best grass we have in the front yard grows up every summer in that gravel. Every summer, the actual lawn, just inches away beyond the “front walk” is brown and barren, but the walk itself is green and lush. It drives me crazy!

But I have not given up. I will not be defeated by stubborn and untrustworthy grass. Every summer I try again.
I invest in the best grass seed, or the best that I can afford. Grass seed can be really expensive! I usually buy the kind recommended for dense shade but some years in a spirit of experimentation, I try other kinds of grass seed. It doesn’t seem to matter much.
Usually the first warm day of the spring finds me out front with a metal rake, trying to clean up the “thatch” that might be killing my baby grass seeds. All sorts of stuff gets raked up that first day including bits of trash that drifted out from the garage over the winter, gallons of acorns and souvenirs of the two dogs. Then I wrestle with my inner environmentalist about whether to use chemicals to kill the weeds and fertilize the lawn. I can calm my guilty conscience by promising myself that I’ll only do our small front yard. Our large backyard will remain pure of chemicals and very weedy.
One year when I felt especially determined, I bought bags of top soil to put under the grass seed and bales of straw to spread over it. The dogs loved to dig in the straw, so I laid plastic orange fencing on top of the straw and pegged it down with tent stakes. No one could understand why our front lawn was covered with orange fencing, but it worked. The dogs couldn’t get through. The only problem was when I unpegged the fencing and pulled it up, the straw came up too and so did the fuzzy green baby grass. Either I waited too long to pull it up or not long enough. I’ll never know which. The top soil all washed away into the back yard and nourished the weeds.

What is it about a front lawn that suburbanites lust after? We used to laugh about our next neighbor in Indiana who spent his vacations building irrigation systems for his yard. We always knew exactly where our property line was and told the kids they could only play on the sick looking, yellowish grass on our side. Sometimes we’d see them secretly pressing a bare foot over the line into the forbidden soft, green carpet on the other side.
Luckily by June each year my obsession passes. By then I’ve invested in a new sprinkler and forced our water bill up in an effort to turn my expensive grass seed into a soft green carpet. But every year I have to admit defeat and console myself by going down to the lake and jumping in. Ahhhh.

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One of the most important rites of spring is the first bike ride of the year.  On Saturday I  attached  the older sister’s former bike rack to the back of my car and I headed off to my favorite trail head.

There are a lot of things I love about living near the lake, but riding bikes isn’t one of them.  The streets in our little subdivision are way too steep for me and I firmly believe you would have to be suicidal to go out on the two lane highway on a bike.  So bike rides always begin with a car trip.  Luckily for me, Rogers is in the process of building a really great set of bike trails.

Back in the day I would have scoffed at bike trails.  I prided myself on riding in traffic. I remember telling people, it was really just a mind game.  You had to pretend to be a car and just go for it. Luckily my young self never spoke to my children.  By the time I was telling them about bike riding I was very much over pretending to be a car.

But I remember what it was like.  My love affair with bicycles started long ago and hasn’t ended yet. 

I bought the blue Schwinn “racing” bike at the Schwinn store in East Providence when I was in college.  I was actually replacing another fairly new Schwinn that was a little heavier and didn’t have the racing handlebars. I couldn’t really afford to trade in that fairly new bike, but I wanted a racing bike badly so I managed to talk my mother into buying the older one and paying too much.  She was easy that way when she knew I really wanted something. 

I loved the racer!  And I loved riding it around Providence.  When my car blew up, I rode the bike exclusively even to the self-service gas station where I worked. Between me and the gas station was a hill of Arkansas proportions.  I could never make it up that hill, but I kept trying.  I’d end up pushing my racing bike up the last few yards, panting and sweating and there was always an old woman working in her yard at the top of the hill and every day she’d call to me, “You’re going to give yourself a heart attack.”  I was only 20 years old and in decent shape.  I didn’t really understand her concern.

The best ride was going downtown.  They’ve changed the roads around Providence since then and I suspect the rotary is long gone, but back then I had to use the rotary at the bottom of the big hill next to the Rhode Island state house.  Rotaries are traffic circles, of course.  There’s usually a couple of lanes of traffic, headed in the same direction around the circle, the problem is that in order to stay in the rotary and not go shooting out one of the exits you had to move across at least one lane of fast-moving traffic.  I would use the momentum from the big hill to get up to speed and go flying into the rotary just as if I was driving an actual car.  If I saw one of my kids doing what I used to do, I’d kill them.  But somehow it worked both me and my blue Schwinn racing bike survived. 

My next stop on my biking adventure was the Kentucky years when I learned exactly how narrow a two lane road can be if you’re riding a bike and an oversized load comes up beside you.  I also had to dodge cows on occasion, but I kept trying to ride my bike.  After we were married, I tried hard to convert my husband.  I even bought him a bike of his own, but I couldn’t afford a second Schwinn and the inexpensive bike I found seemed to self destruct each time he rode it.

When the kids were little, I found a second blue Schwinn racing bike at a garage sale and we added baby seats. 

My bike had a baby seat for years because our youngest child refused to give it up.  I remember when she was in kindergarten and all her friends were giving up their training wheels, she was still in the seat behind me.  It lasted until she got so heavy,t he seat started sinking down onto the tire and then we took it off.  By then we were living here by the lake.

The youngest still doesn’t like bike riding, but the older two have taken up where I left off.  Some day we’ll do a long ride together – maybe the Katy trail in Missouri.  I have to work on my endurance and I have to get over the mental image of an overweight, middle-aged woman on slim blue racing bike. 

My rite of spring ride was only a few miles long and it left me pretty sore, but I’ll keep trying and one of these days, we’ll do that trail.

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Icy Surprise

So we had record breaking cold and a ridiculous amount of snow, but I told the kids Beaver Lake doesn’t freeze. It is, after all, a moving body of water that used to be a river. Moving water doesn’t freeze. They didn’t believe me.
They used to believe me when I told them stuff like that, but now they consider themselves grown and so belief has become optional. I don’t think of them as grown and they don’t always act grown.
On Friday the older brother had been enlisted to give me a ride into town to pick up the college daughter. I could have driven my little car into town that afternoon if I had dug it out of the 18 inches of snow. By then the roads were clear, but my half of the driveway wasn’t and I didn’t want to shovel. So the 23 year old son and the 18 year old daughter were together with all that snow on the ground and nothing in particular to do. Within a few minutes they had broken out the old snow pants and ski jackets.
I told the 23 year old that the kid-sized snow pants wouldn’t fit him. He didn’t believe me and wore them anyway. So the latest chapter in a snowball fight that started all those years ago ensued. They looked exactly the way they looked ten years ago when it was a 13 year old boy pushing his 8 year old sister into a snow bank. I couldn’t stand to be in the house. I put on my boots and went out to play too.
We ended up down at the lake because there was a hill and they had resurrected the last two sledding type devices left in the household. We used to have many more sleds. When we lived in Indiana, there was plenty of snow but no hills. Every Christmas we added a new sledding device – a family sized toboggan, a round “flying saucer,” a plastic snow board. We brought a few of them along when we moved south. Now we have all these hills and occasionally we have snow, but there’s never a clear spot and the sleds don’t steer. They used to sled on the street heedless of my nervous breakdowns, but the snow plow had ruined that by Friday.
So two grown kids, two very happy dogs, and I ended up at lake.
I’ve spent hours on Beaver Lake. I’ve tried to hike the shoreline, although it’s never easy. I’ve picked up litter on the islands. I’ve cooked hundreds of meals while tied up in one cove or another. I’ve been out in the winter looking for eagles and in the summer looking at fireworks, but there are still surprises left. Our little cove where we’ve spent hundreds of hours on floatation devices was frozen enough that the dogs could cross to the other side. I made the kids stay on shore and eventually we got the dogs back on shore too. All that water, finally still, was something to see. Even after 12 years, Beaver Lake still has surprises for me.

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