Sunday, March 4, 2012

Leaving the Lake

I sit here in my living room on a Pajama Sunday, conscious it’s one of just few such days left here in my townhouse as I prepare for a move to an apartment in a nearby town in just three weeks. As I stare out the window and reflect on the huge change coming in my life, I realize it’s not just what’s inside my house that I’ll miss, it’s what’s outside.  
It’s that beautiful lake with the sun dancing on it.
It’s the ducks and geese sailing serenely across, except when they suddenly bob down into the water for a bath.  And the ducklings and goslings who suddenly appear and follow behind them in spring.
It’s the great blue heron standing on one leg in the rushes, or soaring across the lake to a treetop.
It’s my neighbors:
It’s Norma and Daniel, who live next door, and are the best neighbors a gal could ever have.  They have become very dear to me for their generous spirits, for their love of my son as he’s gone from adolescent to young man, for (once that son moved out) the sound of a shovel on my sidewalk during a snow storm before I’ve even gotten out of bed, for Daniel’s chivalrous efforts to rid the wall outside my bedroom of a particularly determined woodpecker, for their fig tree arching over the edge of my front patio and the harvest they share with me every year, for Norma’s beautiful garden, for both of them inviting me into their home and hearts.  Whether helping take out my recycling when I was recovering from surgery, swapping newspaper and mail watch when either of us were out of town, or just sharing a few minutes conversation in our daily routines as we met outside our doors, they have always been there for me.
Ellen, who is my go-to gal when there’s an animal in need, the neighbor who like me has Second Chance Wildlife engrained in her brain should crisis strike.  Whether it’s a bird who’s bumped into a window or a squirrel laying down who suspiciously hasn’t moved in hours, she’s the one I can call who will come out and rescue the animal, or me (in the case of the bat that got in once). And whose lush gardening and bird-feeding draws pretty chickadees and glorious red cardinals and of course all the LBB (little brown birds) and squirrels to our patios for me to enjoy, too.
It’s Nancy and Dave, who saved me from insanity when I had a very active little dog who needed more exercise than I could give him in a day.  They’d pop over several times a week so he could join them on their long walks and sometimes take him back to their home afterwards where he would entertain them with his acrobatics and his adoration.
It’s the encounters in the parking lot, shooting the breeze with Ira or saying hello to Ken or Joanne with their teeny tiny dogs a good breeze could blow over.  It’s 10 years of seeing Susan and her dogs—first Molly’s friend Truffle, now Penny the beagle (who has her own fan base on Facebook)—catching up on each other’s lives in a nutshell, me getting doggie love from Penny now that I no longer have my own pup at home, and assuring her I didn’t believe all those crazy stories her mom told about her antics.
It’s the occasional surprise in the parking lot, specifically having my hand on my car door to open it before noticing a stag in the strip of woods just feet away, or driving home at dusk and having a family of deer cross my path and make me glad I was going so slowly. 
It’s the sunsets across the lake, lavender, gray, pink, and orangey.
It’s the sliver of moon through another window over the lake certain times of the month.
It’s the sun streaming through the lakeside windows in the afternoon, into the living room or into my home office, almost blinding at times, though I only reluctantly close the blinds.
It’s the trees arching over the esplanade in welcome as I drive back into my neighborhood. It’s the willow trees on the opposite bank of the lake.  It’s the combination of evergreens and deciduous trees, a complex weave of bare branches in the winter, lush in spring and summer, fading in melancholy in autumn yellows and oranges.
It’s the delight in summer of seeing the occasional dog (almost always a Lab) leap off the small pier across the lake into the water and paddle happily around before returning to its owners.
It’s the memory of Sammy and friends stomping in the front door after school, laughing, talking animatedly, bringing the quiet townhouse back to life.
It’s during a snowy day when I remember how much my dear Yellow Lab Molly loved hurling herself onto the white carpeted ground and wriggling around with a vigor that belied her advanced age, reveling in the cool snow against her skin. 
It’s the squirrels scampering about on the front side of the townhouse. They’re so used to me, saying hello to them as I come and go, once one sat right outside my front storm door, not six inches away, staring in as a friend and I talked just inside the door, as though he was waiting for an invitation to come in.  (I was amused and not at all surprised; my friend was a little freaked out.)
It’s my neighborhood pool, where I’ve spent many lovely days and evenings swimming, doing water exercise, and lounging with a good book, where I’ve celebrated Fourth of July with our annual BBQ and festivities, and where each year at season’s end I’ve gathered with many of my neighbors for the annual dog swim—some years as a participant, others as an observer, always a delight!
It’s the community of Rockville that surrounds me, where I’ve lived now for 20 years, where I’ve raised my son.  Sure, I’ll be coming back here frequently, as my mom still lives here, and as a shopper, a diner, a movie-goer—but no longer as part of the fabric of this citizenry, of the familiar faces at the post office or the neighborhood pool.
I didn’t just live in this home at night and on weekends.  I was here often 24 hours a day, working from my home office with the awesome 30-second commute and the glorious lake view.  This was my base, my sanctuary. 
Now I have to trust that the clearing of this space I’ve done so far, and the ultimate clearing out, will lead me safely, if not gently, on the next step of a journey that will take me where I’m meant to be—my next leap of faith.