Tuesday, July 8, 2014

American Pastimes

Independence Day is one of the best holidays to celebrate in the northeast. The weather is balmy, barbecue smoke fills the air, everyone wears their crispest reds, whites, and blues, and as fireworks thunder across the sky we take a moment to remind ourselves that, dang, this country is beautiful and it's ours. At least, that's my take on things. 

Unlike last summer when I was on a rooftop in China's capital haggling for over-priced Pabst Blue Ribbon, this year I visited my teammate and good friend Eric at his family's cottage on Keuka Lake. There was no shortage of clear blue skies and warm water (and PBR, haha). I watched the local Fourth of July Parade with his family and other kids, cheering for the volunteer fire departments, antique tractors and fire trucks, and local residents tossing candy-- a quintessential rural America celebration. It was a nice moment to appreciate these small-town traditions that I seemingly try to escape.

Some other St. Lawrence and Habitat friends came as well, which was fantastic. We cruised down the lake to Hammondsport, swam near the bluff where the lake branches meet (Keuka Lake is shaped like a Y), sailed in Eric's little laser (which capsized at one point!), indulged in barbecue and salads, and played in the front yard until the sun went down for fireworks. Then we stayed up even longer at his friend Bobby's house up in the hills to have a bonfire next to a small wooded lake. The Milky Way was the clearest I've ever seen, and all in all, it was a glorious day.

Hammondsport, at the south end of Keuka Lake.

The Bluff 

Playing Spud with guests of all ages, and their golden doodle, Gracie!

The best lake cottages are those that have been passed down generations, like with Eric's family. They have prime front lake property with their wide, flat front yard and sizeable docks.

 Saturday morning while Eric and Phil went fishing, Eric's mom took McKenzie and I blueberry picking up the road. The patches are situated up a hill among equally long rows of vineyards. I may have mentioned in the past that Keuka Lake, hands down, has my favorite wineries of the Finger Lakes. Obviously I'm biased because of what my parents purchased, but it turns out the blueberries there are equally delicious. It was the opening day of picking season, so a lot of berries have a way to go to ripen, but I was thrilled to spend another weekend harvesting fresh fruit. Although the guys came home without a catch, we picked nearly four pounds of blueberries that generously joined our pancake breakfast.

And finally, our house is for sale (anyone looking to move to the Western Finger Lakes?) so my parents have been tackling every room to clean, renovate, and restore for potential buyers. The other day my dad took down the recessed vanity mirror of the master bathroom, revealing a pleasant message from nearly twenty years ago that reads "whole house remodeled." Looks like we have these previous owners to thank for the beautiful living space we've inhabited. I love thinking of houses as physical frameworks for memories and life, with predisposed characters based on their architecture, cultural significance, and general design. Yet the soul, that truly breathes through its inhabitants. I remember doing something similar when we replaced the kitchen counters of our former house in Brockport. I hope whoever finds it next smiles at the handwritten momento of the seven-year old girl who used to live there.

Listening: "Tempest" by Lucius from their 2013 album, Wildewoman

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