Image Source: MaineHomes.com
Summer, 1984: we are at the lake and time is immaterial. Or so it seems.
Since 1978 our family friends the Moreau’s have lived on Tacoma Lake, and we are frequent visitors. The Moreau’s have lake access, a dock and a nifty little power boat, a mustard yellow six-seater. They are often at the farm for cookouts, and we are often at the lake for aquatic downtime.
On this night, myself, my brother Eric and our friend Rick Moreau, both two years older than I, are drifting on Tacoma, outboard motor cut off, with patriarch and Skipper Leonard Moreau. After a late afternoon of water-skiing, fishing and testing the upper limits of the speedometer, we are now just drifting.
The sun is starting to go down in summer pastels. A low mist of smoke from campfires and charcoal hangs over Tacoma. Surrounding the lake are perfectly manicured lawns, cabins and houses, deep dark woods and gentle hills, one with an antennae that I always focus on: I love watching the aerial light blink. A wood-paneled cruiser passes us slowly, its engine making a gentle put-put noise that is perfectly befitting.
We had been cruising and playing. Now we are just being, slowing down to take in the lake and the light and this gloriously perfect summer night in Maine. Jim Croce’s “Time In A Bottle” runs through my head, and at eleven years old, I have a revelation: I feel that I get it. I understand the feeling of wanting to lock these important memories in a box and hold on to them forever. Time in a bottle, snapshots to pull out much later.
With this understanding, I also feel that I get the importance of holding on to these things, and keeping them until the time is right, until the words to describe the scene can come naturally, empirically, perfectly.
This one night, this one sunset, has not existed outside of my memory bank in the twenty-seven years since it happened, and I’m a little breathless at the thought of letting it go, released to the world like a new car or a new flavor of soda. And on the surface, it’s not much: a sunset, water, a little smoke.
But in terms of what that scene meant to an emerging eleven-year-old mind, and the lessons I’ve taken from the experience, it’s incalculable. Time is never immaterial. All we have is right now. Hold on to it. You’ll need it later.