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Kathy Bradley
Enjoy a moment outside of your routine
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 My preference for the ocean does not keep me from appreciating other bodies of water, so earlier this summer when my friends, Tim and Lori, asked if I’d like to visit them at their lake house, my only response was, “When?”
    A couple of Saturdays later I was headed north following directions by which only a girl raised in the country would not be intimidated. The sun was high and white, making the two-lane asphalt roads glimmer like a mirror ball in a disco. The drought had not yet leeched all the color from the grass along the rights-of-way and the tall green blades swayed back and forth in the breeze of the passing cars.
    In Wadley I got detoured by road construction and pulled into a church parking lot interrupting the conversation of two parishioners to ask directions. “Just follow me, honey,” one of the ladies said. “I’m going that way.”
    She got into her car and said, “Now, when I turn right you just keep going straight.” And when she turned right, waving wildly out the window, I kept going straight, back on track.
    I drove through Sparta and Greensboro, towns where the streets downtown are still busy on a Saturday morning, now paying closer attention to that part of the directions that said things like, “Be on the look-out for a faded wooden sign.” Before long, the tires on the Escape were crunching over gravel strewn on red clay and I knew I’d arrived.
    It is, as I suspected it would be, a beautiful spot. The house looks as though it were built by the trees themselves, as though they had simply leaned themselves against each other in perfect symmetry and balance and melded into each other to keep out the elements. The land slopes gently down to the water where wide shallow waves made by passing boats lick the spit of sand that Tim and Lori’s girls call the beach.
    The girls and I played in the water, stuck sycamore leaves in our ponytail holders and called ourselves Indian princesses. We searched for treasures of rocks and twigs and recently-deceased insects. We had hot dogs for lunch and then all went for a ride in the boat, going fast and slow and fast again. We waved at people we knew and people we didn’t. And the day wound down in sentences that got softer and slower as the sun slipped closer to the horizon.
    We were sitting on the porch, chairs rocking in unintended rhythm when Tim said, “The sunset. You’ve got to see the sunset from the boat.”
    Back out on the water, it was then that I identified the mental gnat I’d been swatting all day.
    There is another lake house where I’ve spent a lot of time. Another lake. Another set of friends. That house faces east and it is the sunrise that is so exquisitely beautiful, the morning whose quietness drapes around your shoulders and calls you out to see. A mirror image of this place, these friends, this evening.
    We are creatures of habit, we humans. We fall into patterns and then assume that those patterns are the only ones. We get used to the sunrise outside our windows and forget that there are windows that frame the sunset. We forget that what we know is not all there is to know.
    Later, in the shallow darkness of early summer, we sat in front of a fire listening to crickets and telling stories. The girls came outside smelling like soap and sunshine and convincing their daddy, with little more than a look, that it was a perfect time to roast marshmallows.
    His big hands dwarfing the puffy white squares of sugar and egg whites, Tim stuck one on a metal rod and kneeled down in front of the fire. He turned the marshmallow round and round, just barely above the reach of the flames, the color changing from white to yellow to gold to caramel.
    “Didn’t you like the sunset?” he asked me without taking his eyes off the marshmallow.
    “Yes,” I answered him. “Yes, I did.”
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