Steve and I have missed much of what felt like summer, distracted with life events that required more attention than recreation. I’ve been drinking my Vinho Verde (crisp, delightful, and super cheap Portuguese wine) and he’s been riding his bike, but we haven’t been that much fun, you know?
So we decided to spend the second to last day of summer (otherwise known as the Sunday of Labor Day weekend) at Lake Tahoe. Just the day, with our chairs and books, and a picnic—no watches, and no clicking on news websites, especially not ones with election polls. Maybe a writing pad and a deck of cards. We left the house early, turned up the music and wished for more weekends in the mountains. We drove by Aunt Pat’s cabin in Squaw Valley and got a little emotional, and declared life is for living NOW, and drove on to my favorite spot, Sugar Pine Point State Park.
Rocks, blue water and a sky so big that all you can do is breathe it in.
My book never came out of the bag. Steve wandered down the beach, climbed a few boulders, read the Sunday NY Times Magazine, laid down and took a nap. I played with rocks.
All day long. I started stacking them, and then I couldn’t stop. I didn’t plan this, but I just wanted to build cairns. Five hours, eight cairns.
The first ones weren’t very special.
I realized I could get a head start if I began with a really, really big rock. I also realized I needed the blue of the sky and the lake for context. The towers needed to breathe as much as I did.
I found myself getting attached to certain rocks, and taking a few with me to the next cairn. And then realizing that just because one rock works here, doesn’t mean it works there. I found myself worrying that I’d never find another flat-enough rock again. Sometimes I got greedy, and that never ended well.
Meanwhile, kids are jumping off the boat in the harbor in front of me, four teenagers kayaking by, laughing in French. Two guys hide behind a giant boulder, sneaking a joint. And I am the crazy lady stacking rocks.
A family stopped and settled in, and their little girl reconstructed one of the towers.
I decided that eight was enough and began working on my ground game.
Eventually we packed up and wandered over to the Hellman-Erhman Mansion to sit on the porch. I asked Steve for a happiest moment and he said he had fun watching how easily I was entertained by the rocks. I told him I meant “a happiest moment of your life” and he still claimed the rock entertainment was a contender. That’s why I keep him.
All day, rocks. Rocks and breathing in the blue. For context.
On the way home, we counteracted sitting Tahoe City traffic by sitting on a lakeside bench and eating berries. We had a pear and gorgonzola cheese pizza and a glass of wine in Squaw Village and drove home with Carlos Santana, Jerry Garcia and Mumford and Sons.
Last breath of summer, rocks and all.