Messing About in Boats

There are few words that evoke sweeter memories than, “summer at the lake.” My family had many summers at various lakes when I was growing up. I long for those days. I totally agree with the Water Rat in Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows:  “…there is nothing—absolutely nothing—half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.” 

Some people like to tear around in big outboard motorboats. I prefer to putter around in a little rowboat under my own muscle power, with the only sound the soft splash of the oars as I lower them into the water and the drip of sparkling water drops falling  back into the lake. I can admire waterlilies from up close. The sun is warm. The air is fresh. The water stays clean. Such simple pleasures. That wasn’t something I appreciated at much back then.

This photo was probably taken by my dad who was sitting in the stern and taught me to row.

This was probably my first time at the oars. You can see from my big grin that I took to messing about in boats like those other critters who paddle in the water. Quack. Ducks tend to keep their distance, but don’t get scared half to death by my quiet approach.

On Lake McMurray, Washington State.

During my teen years my family and our friends took over a tiny resort on Lake McMurray for several days of crayfishing parties. If I remember correctly, there were only four cabins. One family had to pitch a tent on the lawn next to the lake.

The use of a rowboat was included in the rent. Unlimited access to a rowboat and being deemed a competent enough rower to be allowed out alone was pure heaven for me.

Being out on the lake with my father at the oars was also fun. I’d sit sideways in the stern and dangle my bare feet in the water. A great way to cool off on a hot summer day? Were the days actually hot? I don’t remember. Washington has a temperate climate. In my memory the weather in July seemed ideal, not too hot, never too chilly.

Even when the little red boat was moored, it was a delightful thing. I’d lie on the seat in the stern, with my eyes closed, dangling my feet in the water, being lulled by the rocking of the boat. Few times have been as fine as those.

This is Königssee in Bavaria, my birth place. Does that mean rowing’s in my blood?

Even though this photo doesn’t go with the summer theme of my post I chose it because in this picture the lake looks more pristine, more magical than in the other photos I found on the internet. I copied it from Microsoft Edge.

Königssee is Germany’s third-deepest, and is reputed to be its cleanest, lake. To protect the water’s quality since 1909 only electric, paddle, and rowing craft have been allowed on the lake. 1909! That also makes the lake a quieter place. Can you imagine what our lakes would be like if we did the same?

When my family spent vacations at Lake McMurray there were never any powerboats on the lake. Perhaps because the lake was so small. I could easily row from one end of the lake to the other. I don’t know how long it took? Who looks at watch, or even wears one, while on vacation? Vacations for dawdling, idling, puttering. Completely relaxing and forgetting about time.

It’s been years since I visited Lake MacMurray, but from what I’ve seen in photos online, it hasn’t changed much. There are probably still no power boats on the water. Going there now wouldn’t be the same. It’s the lake of sweet memories and happy dreams. It should stay pristine, like Königssee.

4 thoughts on “Messing About in Boats”

  1. Lovely memories of those lazy, hazy but not crazy days of summer. I’m going to look up Lake Mcmurray; I don’t know anything about it, except what you’ve posted here.


  2. What special, wonderful memories. I remember Lake McMurray. You are right. It was a small but beautiful lake. Years after I left Darrington, my cousin and I drove there. At that time, it hadn’t changed. Thanks for the memories.


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