Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Gorgeous (Lake) George

A number of years ago, when I was managing communications for the American Society of Corporate Secretaries, I attended a business meeting in early October at Lake George. I can vividly remember coming over a hill as I approached the lake. When I reached the top, on my left was a steep wooded hill ablaze in fall color. Just ahead was a sun-speckled blue lake. The scene was so amazing that I had to pull over to the shoulder of the road and stop to admire it. Fall may be exciting in other parts of the country, but I don’t think you can top the Northeast. And Lake George has to be among the best places to be in early October.

Luckily, that is where we were this past weekend. We were invited to a special reunion of four families who had biked and barged together in the Netherlands in 2011. We had spent only a week with the other three couples in Holland, but it was a pretty intense experience, and we developed a warm relationship. So when Anne and Rich offered to host the reunion at their house on Lake George, we were thrilled to join in.

This is no ordinary house, by the way, even by Lake George standards. Anne and Rich had to negotiate for three years to purchase the property that juts out as a peninsula onto the lake. Previously, this piece of land had not changed ownership since the late 1800s. Land does not ordinarily change hands quickly or easily along this part of Lake George. We did hear one amusing story about how the deed to a section of the neighboring property was garnered many years ago from its previous owner—a noted reprobate— following a week of drinking and bonding with a Dutch “interloper.” The reprobate’s family, who still held much of the surrounding property, didn’t talk to the interloper and his family for many years following what they regarded as an act of theft.

But, of course, I am digressing.

Once Anne and Rich bought the property, they proceeded to tear down the decaying residence that had sat empty upon it for an entire generation. One younger neighbor, who came to visit over the weekend, noted that, as a child, she had often played in the “haunted” house against her parents’ orders. The floors were in bad shape, and large sections of the roof were missing. A long building process began, and the result was an amazing wood and stone structure that can comfortably sleep lots of people in several bedrooms, a large bunk-bedded loft, and an adjoining structure. The six of us visitors had no trouble finding great accommodations.

The Lake George house from ground level

and from an overlooking peak

But the real star of the property and the weekend was nature at autumn time and how it took hold of us. There was the lake that surrounded the property on three sides. The fourth side opened onto a meadow and then to a series of wooded rocky hills that were in their fall glory. (I’ll talk more about those “damned” hills in tomorrow’s post.) The lake was a little chilly for swimming but welcomed boaters and kayakers who are less apt to capsize than I (which is, of course, another story). The water was blue and crystal clear, and the lapping of waves onto the rocks along the shore was almost hypnotic. It would be hard to find anything wrong with our weekend home. And we didn’t.

Amid all of this beauty, we had the chance to share our pictures and stories of Holland, catch up on what we and our various children have been doing, and eat far too much. Audrey said I seemed to be in my element over the weekend, as the four males, in particular, pounded each other with puns of various degrees of “groan-ability.” That is often how aging males compete with each other, and it sure beats fisticuffs.

So we completed the first ritual of fall by going leaf watching in the supreme arena of the sport. In three weeks, we will experience ritual number two—picking out some of the ugliest and tastiest turnips in the world at the annual Gilfeather Turnip Festival in Wardsboro, Vermont. I will proudly don one of my two festival t-shirts (which I wear proudly everywhere I travel, even in Holland) and schmooze up several farmers eager to sell me their wares. 

The turnips will later find their way into glorious soups and mashes. At least I will consider them glorious. It is fall in the Northeast. Even a Southern boy can appreciate how special that is!

No comments:

Post a Comment