By Morgan O’Neill
Summer is here and with the long languid days, ever warm, I think of Lake George east of the Adirondacks in upstate New York. It is not hard. My parents, both deceased for many years are buried there. I don’t mean in a cemetery landed and occupied by strange neighbors on a hillside somewhere. I mean their cremated remains are scattered on the lake. Morbid? No. Far from it. Since I was three, more than 50 plus years ago they started taking me there and the memories of their joy at being isolated on the islands away from civilization remains indelibly etched in my mind. The fact that their remains are resting in the lake only means to me that they are still joyfully there.
I am not talking about the honky tonk southern end defaced by motels, big homes and the worst sort of commercialism. I am talking about The Narrows midway up this 28 mile glacial valley of crystal clear water where the islands freckle the lake unadorned with nothing but camp sites accessible only by boat. It was there that my parents, lawyer and nurse, decompressed and shared their love of the lake with their children. I could not forget even if I wanted to. It is there, sitting on the granite rocks in some rickety folding chair they would idle away the hours reading. I am fairly certain that is where I discovered reading as a pleasure, not schoolwork. Kinda funny how we learn.
James Fennimore Cooper’s Last of the Mohicans is set there. The natives named the lake The Horicon. The English blasphemously usurped it to honor King George, but, of course, they did that everywhere back then. The story vividly recalls The Narrows in a chase sequence that I actually can retrace. I know the lake that well. To say that I have an obsession for this place is not unkind. A few years ago a few friends dropped me off on one of the islands where they left me alone for several days and as expected all I did was sit in a rickety old chair on those granite rocks reading. I spent the time reading one 76 page poem, Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself, one of his most loved and greatest poems that is heralded as an optimistic and inspirational look at the world.
Lake George is not a place for lingerie. Far from it. But it is inspiring just like lingerie. She, the lake, is a lady, not a George, so I could stretch reality here and try to make a farfetched connection. An aerial view will show you its hourglass figure, small shouldered and big bottomed. The freckled islands spot her naval enticing a closer look. The sloping shoreline deeply wooded shrouds her beauty. The morning calm, the placid dawns often gives way to white caps, sometimes scary, sometimes violent just like a woman. And it is deep. Very deep. Just like a woman. Nature is her lingerie and she is beautiful.