Sebago Lake, Maine, at this time of year. Winter's harsh beauty. A lake of dark ice under a sky of dark ice broken only by the twinkling of stars. The sound of the ice sheets shifting against each other. Chirping. Like the mating calls of small frogs. We stand on the beach. Clean, cold air, scrubbing our lungs. Quiet. Quiet. Quiet.
Then: My daughter's joyful cries echo over the lake. She throws rocks at the ice with her older cousins. They skitter and chirp across the surface. "Didja hear that daddy? Didja here that? Didja hear it daddy? Didja hear it?"
Her younger brother answers first, bellowing from the snug safety of his bjorn, attached to me and buttoned tightly into my coat. "Daaaa, YAAAAAA, MAMAMAM bpppppthtrrp. RAAH!"
"Here's another rock. Here it is. Throw it. Throw it! Whoa!" whoop her older cousins, overjoyed to be playing with our children.
My wife, impressing upon her daughter the beauty of the place she loves so much. Or trying too. "Isn't it beautiful honey? Watch out for the lake, don't step in (to me: Jesus it's freezing. Why isn't she freezing?).
Appreciating quiet beauty is not exactly a toddler's forte.
I take in the star-gazing smorgasbord above and smile. "I love a quiet night in the country." I think. Out loud I exclaim, "Peanut, look at all those stars. There must be at least . . . 50. 50 stars! Maybe 57, tops."
I'm not big on quiet either.
We're home from the Great North Woods. It was wonderful and serene and relaxing. We visited the Aunties (actually 2 young adult cousins and a great-aunt). They are generous and loving and hilarious. If you've never seen a lanky, seemingly 8 -foot tall, 23 year-old woman get her ass kicked--twice--in wrestling matches by her 5'3"tall, 50 year-old mom, you really should. You know in Tom and Jerry when Tom gets smashed into a building by a wrecking ball and all you can see are his limbs? That's what it looked like.
And, I napped. Best. Weekend. Ever.
Life is good, people. I'm on a role.