A few weeks ago I was invited by an old friend to spend a few tranquil days at one of the Adirondack Great Camps, an amazing place that's been in her family for several decades. I've been meaning to get up there for about 20 years, but this has been my summer for doing things a little out of my ordinary. I guess there were about 16 friends staying in rustic little cabins, meeting at meal times to be served the most fantastic food by Mary, the woman who holds it all together, spending nights at the round table with a massive lazy susan in the middle, only budging from our plates to spin the center for another glassful of wine. Funny, there were 4 of us Marys and 3 Georges there so things got kind of confusing.
Now this photo of the rocking chair is from a tiny cabin on a nearby island; one I got to visit one afternoon. There a lady well up in her 90s was holding court with her daughters. I found them hanging out on the giant rocks and one was laying on a fresh bed of pine branches under an Adirondack leanto. The scent was divine. This island has none of the trappings of modern day - no phone, no electricity and no plumbing, but a whole lot of peace and quiet.
While the cabins were rustic at my friend's camp, they had showers and all the things a person might need. The camp sports a huge game room with a GREAT fireplace - even a tall person could walk right inside - an
d there are benches in there too if you want to sit right by the fire for added warmth. This game room has a pool table, ping pong, a piano, many trophies (heads of moose, elk, bear skins and the like) a bandstand, a stereo system and even two bowling lanes that were installed somewhere around 1900! The game
room looks out onto the lake and over at some lovely mountains. The porch features a giant Adirondack-style sette
e that must be 40 feet long. And back in the day they held square dances to which many folks were invited, arriving by boat.
The main cabin has a lovely fireplace and that's where we enjoyed cocktail hour(s) most evenings, coming together from our various pursuits - lazing in the sun with a book, walking the nature trail, out on one of the boats or canoes exploring the lake, playing tennis, bowling, sitting in the gazebo playing music or whatever. It was all good and the air is so fresh and sweet there at the camp that we all felt envigorated. I know I felt like life just couldn't be more perfect than it was there in that mountain lake paradise. My mind was content, my stomach was happy and I spent my time sometimes alone sometimes in the company of some of the nicest people anyone could ever meet. It just doesn't get better.
One night we all piled into a couple of boats and headed across the lake to a church on Long Point where they regularly have concerts. There's something really special about heading out on boats in the gloaming and cruising over to a church glowing in all that late-day golden light. Our friends Mary, John and Trish played a show there that night and the pews were packed to overflowing with folks who enjoyed their own special brand of old time music. After the concert, we all got into speed boats, pontoons, canoes, kayaks, and Adirondack guide boats and headed back to our respective quarters as the sun set in the red sky over the lake.
The "winter cabin," located near the boat houses was where we shared our meals at the Round Table and often a game of cards or backgammon after the nightly benediction. Many warm conversations took place in that wonderful spot and some folks adjourned to the great, high front porch to watch the moon over the lake. In the mornings and afternoons it was a popular spot for reading the newspaper or a good book from one of the brimming Adirondack bookcases while the whir of hummingbirds feeding overhead lent a homey air to the day.
Let me tell you, it's a hard place to leave. Think of Shangri-la and you won't have missed the mark by much. Only thing that might have made it more paradisical would be if a merman had popped up out of the sandy swimming area and winked at me. Didn't happen, but I didn't feel lacking for anything in the world as I spent so many happy days in the presence of air, water, trees, friendly conversation and, at times, s
The days passed slowly, yet sped by quickly, and soon it was time to leave. As I boarded the boat that took me back to the mainland I couldn't help but feel like a big piece of my heart had been torn out and left behind in that idyllic spot where the sunsets over the lake take the breath away from even the hardiest souls.