I’m sitting on a bench beneath the shade of a determined sugar maple tree, perhaps its verdant growth encouraged by the view I’m enjoying. Who or what wouldn’t be heartened with these delightful surroundings.
Youngsters set sail on skiffs, their teenage teachers guiding them into and out of the steady east wind, tacking, and turning this way and that, the multi-colored sails energized by the steady lake breeze.
Only weeks ago a much different scene played out in this same location. One nor’easter after the other pounded the shoreline that now houses a single-file line of dinghies slotted between wooden four by fours.
The shoreline lost, as it always does, against such strong forces of nature. So did the dock, which had its securely anchored metal benches washed overboard.
Today, however, is different. The lake breeze is just stiff enough to keep Old Glory and the nautical signals continually flapping and a lone great egret working overtime to a new upwind fishing spot.
Beyond the pier’s end, a cigarette boat slices with ease through the small waves of Lake Erie. Sun worshippers, fisher-people, and swimmers all bask in the sun-drenched day, thankful the oppressive heat and humidity of recent days have been replaced by these ideal conditions. Not a single contrail pollutes the all-blue sky.
Purple Martins and tree swallows also sail over all the human aquatic action, skimming the latest hatch of Mayflies from the air.
Parents and proud grandparents stand along the shoreline or in the pavilion watching their sons and daughters and grandsons and granddaughters sail away on the blue-green water chop. In a matter of minutes, they safely return, smiles replacing any lingering fear of their maiden voyage.
Just off of the end of the reinforced breaker wall of native limestone, fishermen bob in their bass boat, casting and recasting without success. They soon move on to calmer and hopefully more productive waters.
Back on shore, walkers stroll the sidewalk that runs the full length of the shoreline that makes Lakeside lakeside. This Ohio resort town, appropriately known as the Chautauqua on Lake Erie, is bustling with activity on this Sunday afternoon.
Lifetime Lakesiders gather on other shaded wooden benches like they have for decades like their parents and grandparents did before them. Only the seats are different. The view, the busyness of recreation, education, arts and crafts, and entertainment of the friendly, gated community unfold all around them just as it did when they were children, too.
Bicycles and golf carts wait patiently for their drivers and passengers in the green grass along the blacktop’s edge. The bikes stand unlocked, and ignition keys dangle freely in the carts. Such is Lakeside.
Daring teenage girls try their hand and legs at paddle boards, nimbly dropping to their knees when their hesitation takes hold. They eventually regain their confidence and return to their paddling.
The Westminster chimes of the clock tower atop the nearby pavilion bong 3 p.m., followed by bells singing “How Great Though Art.” Behind me, a gurgling fountain lures a toddler away from her mother until she beckons her daughter to the spotting scope aimed at Perry’s Monument on Put-in-Bay.
These few minutes spent observing, absorbing, listening, looking, appreciating all that is Lakeside, Ohio renews my body, mind, and spirit. Given this setting, that’s what is supposed to happen.
You don’t have to be at Lakeside to garner these healthy, in-the-moment results. But it sure helps.