Sunday, September 1, 2013

Schizophrenic Lake near New York City

Our lake is of two minds.

On the weekends it is a party place,roaring with motor boats and groaning with jet skis, people shouting and laughing sometimes in the middle of the night in the middle of the lake not realizing all of us can hear every word they say, radios blaring.

Our closest bird neighbor, the Blue Heron, looks a bit irritated as he flies by, lands on a tall branch and just sits there waiting for everyone to leave.

On Monday through Friday, the lake is characterized by peacefulness and silence, where birds fishing and people kayaking prevail.
Early Morning Kayaking

On Saturdays and Sundays we listen to 20 foot boats roar, motors gulp and rip as they lurch from place to place in the water, sometimes making so much noise that we have to stop talking to wait for them to go by.  When this happens, our guests often ask why there are no noise regulations for the motor boats on this lake. We say we don't know why, but we think it might have something to do with the fact that a whole lot of marinas profit from boat use on this lake.

Sometimes we giggle at the ridiculousness of an oceanic boat trying to use the lake for recreational purposes, looking a bit like a hippopotamus in a bathtub, hugely out of place with the size of the lake.  Then we talk about how happy we are with the new regulations that are stopping such big boats from using the lake now that there is a 26 foot limit, even though these older already licensed gigantic boats are grandfathered in.

Water skiers fly by behind roaring motor boats  with boom boxes on full blast from the boats, sounding like large roller skating rinks, then kids wave to us as they scream by on their inner tubes pulled by groaning motor boats, waves from the boats splashing noisily against the beach.

I wonder whether they ever wonder what nature sounds like when they are not here?

Luckily there is an 80 foot rule from our shore which discourages boats from entering into areas where we swim.  But even then, we still have to listen to their motors . Starting on Friday when people clean off their decks by turning on their leaf blowers to rid them of the 7 or 8 leaves.each one painstakingly attended to while the leaf blower roars like a lion blowing each tiny leaf into the water along with tiny branches and pieces of dirt that might have accrued over the week.  God forbid that weekend company should touch a leaf with their feet.

We take our late afternoon swim out front hearing the roar of engines, screaming jet skis going crazily in circles to nowhere, all causing huge tidal waves to hit the waves hit the shore, splashing and flipping contents against the dock.

We  know that the weekend is coming to a close when we hear that familiar jet skier who, for at least the past  five years  finishes off his weekend by going round and round in circles, full blast, jet ski roaring, the jet ski burping and belching as it tries to swallow all the water caused by this crazy fellow just  steering the jet ski round and round in circles, going nowhere fast.  Eventually he gets tired (or perhaps dizzy or bored?) from doing this and he gives up and goes home.  We all say, "ahhh, he's finally done."  Sometimes our guests ask us, "what is this man thinking about when he goes round and round in circles?"  None of us really have a good answer for that  We have no idea.

It does look joyful on the weekends. Big, showy umbrellas are placed on docks for friends to gather and sip drinks.   Children splash with buckets along the shore.  Dogs lap water from the edges, barking at the waves and at each other.. Everyone is having a good time and they think that this is Candlewood Lake.  And it is.

But it is only one of the Candlewood Lakes that we have.  There is another one.

We wake up on Monday mornings to a beautiful,quiet lake, with birds soaring above, lake waters sitting still, perhaps small waves lapping quietly, a calm breeze softly roughing it up but only in spots.  This is a lake of kayaks and sailboats, and for large parts of the time, no boats of any kind at all. Neighbors speak with neighbors from the lake shore without shouting.  Muskrats sometimes swim by, sniffing and snuffling in the water.. Birds swoop and dive between the trees.  Our Blue Heron sails by, finding a nice rock to stand on and peers over the water hoping to see a fish.

Our lake is just one hour and 20 minutes from New York City. Imagine what it must endure.  On the weekends, it is taken over by those who have rented boat moorings at nearby marinas, or clubs added to the people like ourselves who own property and have numerous weekend guests, on or near the lake.

I have been told that on the weekends we can have up to 3,500 boats trying to use this little lake for recreation.  Now that really is a traffic jam. But compared to the traffic jams in Manhattan, this area feels rural, or at least forested or significantly more close to nature.

We have wild turkeys, coyotes and even black bears roaming nearby, blue herons, flocks of geese fly by as well as condors that sit on big rocks and look for fish and big red tailed hawks circle overhead.  When I get up early in the morning and go down by the water, I see fish over two feet long just hanging out by the edge of the lake and snakes coiled up and resting on rocks over by the island, swallows and yellow Baltimore Orioles flitting from tree to tree at the edge of the water, truly a lovely setting.

We have now learned to roll with our schizophrenic cottage life.   We used to try to ignore the boat noise.  This is impossible.  So now we just embrace it and say, "here come the boats".    On the weekends, we smile and wave at the people going by in their noisy roaring boats, we smile and laugh at the inner tubes full of children  screaming and shouting as they careen behind the family boats sometimes children tipping over and having to be retrieved, we chat with the families watching their children jumping off the rocks and hanging out in their boats over at the nearby islands. We kayak between them, they joke with us about "want a race?" and we always say, "sure".

On Sunday evening, toward sunset, we get a glass of red wine, some chips and sit down and watch hundreds of boats as they head back to their moorings, sounding like a major battalion leaving a battle ground, knowing that we will not hear from them again for the rest of the week.

We wake up on Monday morning to silence.  It is wonderful.  We are now a little cottage on a quiet lake in northwestern Connecticut, at least for the next five days.