Tuesday, July 12, 2005

1257 The cruise on Lake Erie

Last night's cruise was lovely. I think I saw the most fabulous sunset ever. My husband, who frequently paints watercolor skies using pinks and ultamarine blues, put his arm around me and whispered, "If I painted that, no one would believe it." At 10:10 p.m. we could still see its remnants. The route was around Put-in-Bay and we came very close to Perry's Monument.

The water was a bit choppy and watching people balance their food on plates and knees was heart stopping. I met and chatted with Mary, 90 years old, and still playing golf. She reminds me a lot of my dad's friend Ruth, "the energizer bunny." I'd like to say these people have a magic formula for long life and good looks, but I know Mary's mother lived to 102 and her sister to 105. And I believe Ruth's parents lived into their late 90s. You just can't beat choosing the right parents.

As we walked toward the dock at 7 p.m. we reminisced about the summer of 1988, our first year on one of these cruises. The midwest was locked into a horrible heatwave and drought. We had rented a tiny cottage on Walnut that blessedly had ceiling fans (we didn't even have AC in our home in Columbus). Out on Lake Erie the moist, moving air engulfed us, but it felt cooler. The minute we walked down the gangplank onto the dock at 10 p.m., it was like being hit with a 2 x 4. Later that week we walked around and passed a small house for sale. We peeked in the back window. "It has a real kitchen and a basement," I squealed. We moved to the front porch, which was unfinished and unlocked and I pressed my nose against the pane. "Oh, it has a fire place!" That afternoon we contacted a realtor, who wisely showed us 4 dogs before he showed us the one we asked about. Soon we were locked into a 10.5% mortgage, just about the lowest available at that time. Because our home mortgage in 1968 had been for 20 years, we were debt free and could handle it.

We took possession the week-end after Labor Day. It was a life saver for me, being in deep, intractable grief over my children's decisions not to go to college (relax--it's not the end of the world as I believed then). The cottage was like a new baby, one we needed to visit every week-end and work on from morning 'til night. We'd sit under the fading lilac bush and eat breakfast and say, "It doesn't get any better than this." This summer is our 17th, and the cruises are still fun.


This song of mine
Is a song of the vine,
To be sung by the glowing embers
Of way-side inns
When the rain begins
To darken the drear Novembers.

It is not a song
Of the Suppernong
From warm Carolinian valleys,
Nor the Isabel,
And the Muscadel,
That bask in our garden alleys.

Richest and best
Is the wine of the West
That grows by the beautiful river
Whose sweet perfume
Fills all the room
With a benison on the giver.

Very good in its way
Is the Verzenay,
Or the Sillery soft and creamy,
But Catawba wine
Has a taste more divine,
More dulcet, delicious, and dreamy.

Pure as a spring
Is the wine I sing,
And to praise it one needs but name it,
For Catawba wine
Has need of no sign,
No tavern-bush to proclaim it.


1 comment:

Susan said...

I love your stories about your side of Lake Erie. As I've mentioned before, the pastor of the church I grew up in was a Lakeside regular. In addition,my mom's cousin lives in Marblehead, and my dad's cousin was the Ottawa Co. cornoner for many years...

My favorite memory of going the Put-in-Bay was from 1983. My first year at college concluded with being dumped by my first "real" college beau right after finals. My dad felt bad for me, so he took me along with my brothers for a day on Lake Erie. We spent the day on the island where Perry's monument stands...sorry, I can't remember the name, but you know!