Every summer for years now, my daughters and I have gone camping on Burton Island in Lake Champlain. We always bring the same friend of my youngest daughter. Sometimes another friend and sometimes my oldest hasn’t come. This year for all kinds of reasons, I went alone for a night.
I stopped first to visit a friend and meet his friendly sheep. Then I raced to the ferry. Rain and clouds had moved out. The island has no cars, so the atmosphere is particularly sweet. Little kids bike everywhere. A group of teenage boys had set up a small army of tents, bikes, and fishing poles.
I had brought what I needed for the night: a novel, my knitting, a winter hat, the recently printed out version of my manuscript, and a good pair of walking shoes. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a single mother, it’s make friends with strangers. Much to my daughters’ annoyance, I often find someone to chat with at soccer games, the co-op, the post office. A kind of survival skill on many levels. But I wasn’t there to chat. I walked around the island on its slate-pebbled shores in the daylight, during the enchanting sunset, and in the dark. As the night fell dark, the tree frogs sang melodiously. I slept dreamlessly under the rising moon. In the morning, I drank coffee and read and read until I packed up my few things and headed back to the ferry.
The island, a state park, is mostly staffed by college kids, who are polite and enthusiastic. The young man on the ferry folded up the wildflower guide he was reading to roll a few bikes on the ferry.
On my way home, I realized next summer I could take my kayak and stay a few nights on Champlain’s islands. I can’t swim to save my life but surely that’s something I could learn.
A few lines from Dan Chaon’s Sleepwalk:
“No doubt, a day of reckoning for mankind is coming, yet even for those of us who accept the inevitability of mass human death, there’s still a cautious hope; we’re waiting to see how Armageddon plays out, keeping an eye open for ways it might turn to our advantage… I’m no evolutionary biologist, but I have faith in our species’ stick-to-it-iveness.”— Dan Chaon
21 thoughts on “Solo.”
I grew up on Lake Champlain, though on the NY side (Plattsburg). It is a magical place in the summer months. Sounds like a heavenly retreat for a day.
I’ve never been to that side of the lake. Magical is really the word for this sweet place — and fine weather is extra appreciated.
Oh, do learn to swim!
I know! I know!
Burton Island has always been one of our favorite camping spots. Haven’t been there for a five or six years, but it always remains in my heart. I’ve taken some lovely photos there that I cherish.
So nice to hear you’ve been there, too. It’s pretty much unchanged, as lovely as ever.
“Jealous” is all I can say to that post! I think I’m camping out when I sleep on the daybed on the back porch– and I live in a small suburban neighborhood! Lots of peepers, but no beautiful lake view. Thank you– what a beautiful post Brett Ann!
A daybed on a back porch is a kind of camping out, too. I’ve slept in my yard and considered it a small excursion.
In a kind of way, it was.
Sounds like your perfect day getaway, Brett Ann.
Definitely a kind of getaway. And it’s still August.
All the best with the manuscript too,
Thank you! This one has been a real joy to write.
I’m excited to read the word manuscript:)
I second the swimming! I’m not great at it but this summer discovered how great my body feels after pushing the water around. It certainly a beautiful exercise for aging bodies. My sister is visiting on her way back from VT to the city. She told me about all the great swimming holes there when we kayaked out to my favorite sandbar where we swam in the LI Sound. Now, what to do about winter!
How fun that sounds! Send me something comparable to kayaking for the winter, would you….? Somehow, skiing just doesn’t entirely cut it for me.
another manuscript?!? Good lord you’re productive.
I’m slow as heck, actually.
We all need ‘that’ getaway from time to time. 😊
I’m ready to try it when I can walk again. 😉