The Observer got up to DeGray Lake over the weekend to the beach there, the true Redneck Rivera if there ever was one. We're making it work on a newspaper reporter's salary, friendo, in an age when newspapers have mostly gone the way of the shoe buttonhook. There are no trips to the Caribbean or Acapulco in our foreseeable future, so we make do with that rocky spit of trucked-in sand, a little ice chest full of goodies, two folding chairs and the love of this amazing life, looking tasty in her sassiest swimwear. All in all, it's a pretty good way to spend a Saturday, even if Spouse always comes back looking like someone has braised her over low heat regardless of how much sunblock she douses herself with. A fair-skinned lass, she is.
The Observer and Co. try to get up to DeGray as often as possible in the summer, too broke to buy a party barge or big honkin' ski boat, but still a water pup like our father before us. If The Observer ever hits the lotto, we can guarantee you that one of our first purchases will be the keys to a house that allows us to wake every morning in a place where we can drink our coffee and stare pensively out at the water. We can't quite put a finger on why a lake stills our mind so, but we do love the feeling. Maybe it's the low-salt equivalent of the sentiment in the old Breton fisherman's prayer: "Oh, God: Thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small." We might be onto something there.
And so, we go to the lake. We kick off our sandals and sit. We pop one from the ice chest and scrunch our feet into the sand, and reach out for Spouse's hand or she reaches out for ours, and we just be for a while, content to shut up and Observe. The kids dash down the sand in their water wings, running on them gatdamn rocks as only little children can stand. Down the way, the line for the snow cone trailer snakes across the asphalt, the bubblegummers looking bored in their sunglasses and bikinis. Behind us, doors slam, towels are shaken out, sand is knocked out of shoes against truck bumpers. Before us, swimmers float in the shallows and out at the brink of the buoy line, some close together, talking, their wet heads as sleek as seals. Against the backdrop of the dreaming green hills on the far shore, the big boats cruise and zip and roar across the water, some dragging skiers or tubers, others just skipping, and we remember what it was like in our father's boat at high speed, kicking up spray, the water flashing under the bow, the foaming V spreading in our wake, no better feeling in the world, none at all. And then we wish we had the dough for a barge as big as the strawberry moon, with a rumbling diesel heart and a cabin below deck with a soft bed, a flag and horn, a spoked wheel and a star to steer her by, so we could cruise the lake's secret coves and dive from the crow's nest and pee over the rail in the moonlight. Could there be anything finer than that, we think? Oh God, thy lake is so great, and my boat so small?
In any case, it's not bound to happen any time soon. So we are content with this: two chairs, a spit of sand, a little ice chest, our beloved, and the dappled sun under the trees that lean toward the lake. It ain't a yacht, but in a pinch, it's pretty damn fine.
That said, we'd like to address this next part to a gentleman we saw with his clan there on the beach at DeGray. Dear sir: Loudly saying, "Well, time to go to the bathroom!" before wandering briefly into the lake up to your waist would be fairly uncouth under any circumstances, but was somehow especially so given that you were wearing American Flag swim trunks at the time. The Observer and all Americans should be thankful, we suppose, that you didn't need to go Number Two. Whatever the case, we let a few boats go by before heading back in the water.