The Places We are Drawn

We’re all drawn to certain places.  If you had the power to get somewhere — anywhere — where would you go right now? For your twist, focus on building a setting description.

Writing 101, Day 2.

A place belongs forever to whoever claims it hardest, remembers it most  obsessively, wrenches it from itself, shapes it, renders it, loves it so radically that he remakes it in his own image.  – Joan Didion

Sunset is the moment where the magic becomes most clear.   At that magical hour when the sun begins to dip below the lake, the shoreline fills with people, all watching in awed silence as the sky fills with brilliant colors.  Vibrant reds and oranges, slowly giving way to the darkest of blues, purples, and finally black.  All reflected in the deep, still waters of the mountain lake.

The magic is there all the time, not just at sunset.  It is simply that at sunset that you can see it.  But I feel it other times too.  Nothing in the world compares to strolling along the rough dirt trail, through the dense forest, to reach the end of one of the many peninsula’s that jut into the lake.

There is one that I particularly like.  A minimal climb takes me to the perfect place, hidden below the path, away from the spot where the land gently slopes to the water.  Perfectly set to rest my back against a wall of rocks, rest my feet in the still water, and let my dreams wander.

It is a place that has wrapped itself around my heart and mind, infused in my very soul.  I can’t even begin to explain the way that I have felt connected to this lake, to the land around it.

It has been many years since I last was there, when I rested my feet in the healing water, and let my dreams mingle with the millions of stars that glitter in the night.  Years since I escaped into walking daydream among the trees, and found an unquenchable flow of ideas alive in the air.

But, despite the distance of time, the truth is I am never far from that lake. It lives in my writing, in my memory, and my meditation. When I close my eyes to picture a wooded area, a lake, the clear night sky, a spectacular sunset… it is always the lake I find myself peeking at.

When I dream of where I would build my writers retreat, it is by that lakeside (impossible as that is).  When I am lacking for inspiration I find myself looking at pictures from the lake, remembering the last times I was there, and wandering down the path of memory to all the things I have enjoyed and loved about that place.

It hasn’t always been a place of unrelenting happiness, peace and calm.  I remember the disappointment when we arrived too early and were eaten alive by mosquitoes in a matter of minutes.  And then there was the one visit when I ran to the lakeside to play as soon as we got there, and spent the entire day out there, forgetting to apply sunscreen — my pale skin was not please, and I spent a good portion of the rest of the trip laying on my stomach because my back hurt too much to move.  And then there was the pain from that time I turned too quickly on my bicycle, trying to avoid a chipmunk, only to be tossed on the loose gravel with a force that broke my wrist.  I remember when I visited and had the sense of mystical calm destroyed by the loud, serenade of some kid in a canoe.  But even those things, itching bits, burnt skin, major injuries, out-of-tune songs, the magic of the place reached through it all.

And then there were the storms, though, honestly, those were spectacular.  Winds, rain, sometimes snow or hail.  We’d be confined to our tents, or the tent-trailer once we had that, or even take a trip away from the mountain to visit a nearby town while the storm passed.  At least once, every year, it seemed, we would get those storms.  And the sunset the night after the storm — those were the most spectacular and magical.

It is my sacred place.   A place where I have felt magic alive.   A place that is a part of me.  And if I could transport myself to any place, in any time, it would be to the shore of Waldo Lake as the summer is coming to an end.  Sitting on my special rocky space, watching the sky change colors, enjoying the gentle water lapping at my feet, and the beautiful flow of connection to something other.

A beautiful sunset at Waldo.  Photo taken by my younger brother.
A beautiful sunset at Waldo. Photo taken by my younger brother.

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