When I was ten, my family took a road trip to Canada. On our way home, we stopped in Spokane, Washington, to see my grandmother and my dad’s siblings. My Uncle Norm and my grandma took us to Brown’s Lake in the Colville National Forest. I fell in love with the trees, the mountains, and the wildness of it. Most amazing to me was that we could actually swim in this lake!
That may not seem so special to a lot of people, but in Southern California, where I was born and raised, people don’t normally swim in lakes. Lakes are for fishing. Pools and beaches are for swimming. I used to love swimming and still do, so I was very excited about swimming in an actual lake!
When we got there, though, I got a little creeped out by the idea. There were slimy-looking rocks where sand should have been, there were strange little plants growing from the floor of the lake instead of floating gobs of seaweed, and there were no crashing, rolling waves. Mostly, I didn’t like the idea of putting my feet on the slimy rocks. They didn’t make water shoes back then.
Fortunately for me, the pull of the water was too strong and before long, I got over my fear of the dark, unknown lake water. I liked swimming in the lake. No salt to burn my eyes and no chlorine to turn my blonde hair green.
The year following my introduction to lake swimming, my brother and I spent the summer in Spokane. We went camping at Brown’s Lake quite a few times. Almost every time we went we were the only campers there. It was awesome!
Anyway, inspired by the letter “L” and my great memories of my favorite lake, I wrote this poem.
Standing, staring from the shore
in a place I’ve never been before,
wondering how it would be
to let myself go, to be so free
to step in off solid ground
and break the shackles that keep me bound.
Seemingly clear at first glance
like diamonds sparkling as they dance.
Tips of waves play with the breeze
rising, falling, and chasing they tease.
Dragonflies join in the fun–
iridescent needles in the sun.
Here am I, unsure and small,
Longing to be a part of it all.
“She’s the brave one,” so they say.
Being alone will make you that way.
Fearful of what lies below
I break the surface and in I go.
Don’t fear I hear deep inside
There’s no current here, there is no tide.
Looking down, I see my feet
Where shallow water and rocks do meet.
Some stones shift and some hold fast
So much like people– present and past.
Step by step, I see them fade
I turn back, see the progress I’ve made.
Giving in to its embrace
and gentle caresses on my face.
In this way the lake holds me
Here in its grip is where I am free.