Lovely on the Water, Part I, entry 2

At Leslie’s suggestion, we stopped at a motel for the night.

After a greasy but satisfying all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast at an inexpensive ma-and-pa restaurant, we started off again.

“They won’t accept me,” I said. “I must have gained ten pounds from that breakfast.”

“Then you can get two,” Leslie said. “Alfreda, when are you going to get off that losing-gaining kick? It just doesn’t matter here. I mean, at Etana.”

“If you say so.”

The air was brilliantly cold.  I kept opening the window to gulp in great draughts, which annoyed Leslie because she had the heat on.

“What is with you?”

“Slight claustrophobia.” I closed the window again. “Sorry.”

“Since when were you ever claustrophobic?” she asked, fiddling with the radio.

The first song that came in clearly was John Denver’s “Thank God I’m a Country Boy.”

For no apparent reason, we both burst out laughing.

The trees were tall pine, snowy birch, evergreen. We were traveling west of the Adirondacks, and the hills that rose above the forest were covered with snow.

I sang with James Taylor on the radio.

“You seem more cheerful now,” Leslie said as we passed a creek that had iced over.

“Don’t remind me,” I said. “I’m blocking it all out.”

Every now and then a hint of sun would peep through, but it never turned the sky more than a lighter grey.  For the most part, the clouds hovered thick and slate-grey above an unseen horizon, blanketing the frozen ground and trees as if they were under an arctic tundra.

Up to now we had passed a few cars on the road.  But soon the traffic began to thin until we were traveling ten, fifteen, twenty miles without passing another car.

We were now riding alone through what seemed a palace of the Snow Queen, with icicles linking one branch to the next and glittering all the more serpentine without the sun.

“We’ll be the only two there at this time of year,” I commented.

“Don’t bet on it.” Leslie turned onto a branch route and wove around a dead animal lying in the road.

“A deer,” I said. “Poor deer.”

“We’ll be there in a few minutes,” Leslie announced. “But I want you to see this first.”

She stopped on a hillside road.  We both got out.

On one side of us was a long thin straight blue line with patches of ice splayed evenly across.  Buildings faded into the distance on the far bank.  Brown and white tree trunks marched in bare clusters.

On the other side, a dark blue sheet of ice swelled and rounded into itself, spanning out at the horizon.

“It’s as if the river prepares you for the lake,” I said.

We gazed a little more, then got back into the car.

A few minutes later we reached a gate with a large sign that read, “Etana – A Resort fo Women” in the best tradition of black-markered summer camp lettering.

“Well, here we are,” Leslie said as she turned into the parking lot.

“Yeah, here we are,” I  echoed as she parked and switched off the ignition.

All around us, groups of two, three, even five women who seemed to have come out of nowhere were slamming doors, walking across the lot in parkas and furs, calling to each other.

We had arrived.

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