The call of a loon sounds across the lake as my toe dips gently into the water. I look out over the lake as the sun begins to set. My youngest runs down the dock to tell me that my brother-in-law is starting the fire to roast marshmallows tonight. I smile as he runs back towards the cabin we’ve been renting near Wolfeboro’s Lake Winnipesaukee for the past 10 years with my family.
I look back at the setting sun. Ripples break across the water as a kayak skims by, taking in the same evening glow I’m enjoying. This one week every summer is the one constant in my life. It is a ritual I have loved since childhood, as has my mother and her mother before her.
The tradition now continues with my own boys. They get to enjoy the same yearly sojourn to Wolfeboro, situated on New Hampshire’s Lake Winnipesaukee.
Believe it or not, there isn’t an ocean in sight.
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Vacations On The Lake
Far too often in America we hear about the coveted beach vacation. Yet, for many in America, lake life is a normal part of summertime vacations. Areas in New England, the landlocked Midwest, and Pacific Northwest where the ocean is too cold to swim, as well as parts of California and Texas, flock to find respite by the lake.
Generations of visitors migrate from their city and suburban homes to cabins by the lake, dumping chairs, tents, rafts and kayaks on the water’s edge to take over rentals and family homes for a week, month or the entire season.
Summers near Lake Winnipesauke
My family has been going to New Hampshire for at least three generations. My mom grew up going to Lake Winnipesauke. Her uncle bought a cabin on Swansey Lake west of Winnipesauke, which I grew up visiting as a child.
When he sold the cabin, we went back up to the same little town of Wolfeboro NH on Lake Winnipesauke that my mom had frequented as a child. Now my parents, my sister and her family, and my own family trek up to New Hampshire from our various homes on the East Coast for a week every summer.
This week gives us a break from the throbbing heat and humidity that hits Philadelphia and Washington, D.C. (where our families live), but also a quiet calm to our lives. Knowing we will have this one week to unplug (we hide the TV) and let the kids run wild and free outside, brings renewal into our lives that we always forget we need.
Each year, I pull up to the little cabin we rent on the lake and breath in those glorious pine needles. With just one inhale of the familiar scent, I am finally on vacation; a time of ritual and relaxation.
How We Unwind On The Lake
Everyone in the family has their favorite things to do on the lake once we arrive. The kids have to hit the water, of course. There is a tiny, sand beach next to our dock; sandy beaches are rare on a lake and why we picked the property.
My brother-in-law jumps in the kayak to work out his stiff muscles after the 10-hour drive. I run into town to grab groceries with my Dad (AKA whoopie pies, ice cream and cookies from our favorite bakery), while my mom sorts out the kitchen.
My sister watches the kids with a cool glass of wine and her book, while my husband unloads the car and then takes a nap. We all have our own way of settling back into lake life.
I truly know that I’m back to my “lake home” when I sit on the dock with my camera around 7 P.M. the first night. This is when the magic happens for me—sunset. The stress seeps out of my body, flowing into the water and lapping away with the light breeze that fills the air.
Some nights my dad, who gave me my first camera, and I have a little photo fun with the light. Other nights my husband and I sit side by side, enjoying the peace and quiet.
Lake Life with Kids
Where are the kids in all of this? As they get older, sometimes we just don’t know.
When they were babies and toddlers, an adult always had an eye on the kids. The water was a constant concern. Drowning was an ever-present risk and life vests were always a must. Now that all of the kids are older (ages six and up) and understand the dangers of water, we give them a little more freedom. The cabin is surrounded by woodlands with loads of places for ninjas, knights and princess to play and explore.
Given their young ages (6, 7 and 8), they aren’t exactly quiet either, so we always have a general sense of where they are. We can get a little rest, sit on the porch reading a book, enjoy some music, or cook a meal. Unlike the beach, where many houses are pushed closer together you could literally have a drink with your neighbor without ever leaving your homes, and cars are always an issue, the lake allows this freedom.
My Favorite Corner of the Earth
At the end of the day, we don’t have to worry about burnt toes, only bugs. No cars roll by, only dogs and neighbors up the dirt road coming to say hello after a year away. Our city children enjoy the change of pace and break from routine.
We’ve found our special corner of the earth, and while there were times I took it for granted growing up, as I watch my kids roasting marshmallows with their uncle and cousin, I’m glad I recognized what a gift it is.
My dock will always be waiting for me, as will the setting sun.
Start planning your own family getaway to the lake with Moon New England, our go-to resource when we are wandering around one of our favorite parts of the country.
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