Turtles and Water Lilies

Our 24 hours together is set on these serene piece of water with a gentle breeze, low humidity and sparkling sunshine. Fueled with some yogurt, fruit and granola and the best-smelling coffee, we paddled in the canoe across the bay to the small creek that leads to amazing displays of nature. Despite the hum of a lawnmower somewhere beyond the campground and neighboring state park, the chorus of birds and the gentle lapping of the canoe along the creek is all we could hear. Turtles sunning on a log, water lilies and lupin growing on the surface of the water and small fish greeted us on this short trip. A few kayakers and one fisherman also greeted the day that included this natural treat. The relaxation continues…

A picnic lunch accompanied us to a spot we have not seen yet, White Lake State Park. It’s just a short ride from our Danforth Bay house. The $4 per person admission was worth seeing the white-haired woman at the gatehouse. Doug said, “She’s probably as old as this park.” It was particularly funny when Doug almost rear-ended the car in front of us and the gatehouse woman said, “I know I’m gonna see an accident here someday.”

White Lake State Park, Ossipee, NH

We got the lay of the land quickly as the day-use area included a large beachfront with plenty of families, family-campers, day camp and overnight campers and their counselors and even the occasional garter snake. After lunch, we walked the two-mile trail around the lake which was formed millions of years ago by a glacier. After our walk, we decided to get into the swim area for a dip. Because it’s a glacial lake, it’s a bit cooler than Lake Ossipee – but it was still refreshing and relaxing.

Following our foray into civilization, we stopped at the neighborhood store for some fresh cod fillets and yet another bottle of wine for a fabulous dinner after a one-hour ride on the boat along Lake Ossipee.  It’s all I can do now to hop in the shower, then stay awake a few more hours to enjoy another amazing White Mountains sunset over the bay and take in the Phillies-Dodgers game on MLB.TV. Thursday, Adam leaves his camper days behind and joins us for 10-days of NH vacation-bliss. His favorite friend, Andrew, arrives Friday – it’s all good!

The Girls & Loss

She lived her life and loved it well. What are her “girls” thinking now? Jenny and Todd have had three “rescue” dogs for years. The dogs’ names don’t matter; all I can hear is Jenny saying, “Come on, girls – time for your walk.” Now, I wonder how “the girls” are feeling with Jenny gone…(I had trouble writing that word.)

Voices are very big with me. Jenny had one of those distinct voices – in a very good way. It was a clear voice; a high voice and always (when I heard it) a happy and joyful voice. During our visit exactly a year ago Doug, Adam and I along with Jenny, Todd (the girls), Ron, Iris, their sons, Jake and Ethan and other relatives and friends spent Passover together. There was more laughing and storytelling and the food was ample. Jenny was tired but optimistic as she faced more treatments in the following weeks. Her routine was clear and non-negotiable: she worked out, she had special therapy she felt was good for her mind and soul and she loved planning more trips.

I remember stopping in her open office in their home and noticing the books that all talked of hope and survival. The greeting cards of love and hope – dozens of cards- were taped all around her glorious kitchen where she loved to cook and entertain.

No, I didn’t know her well, but I know I will miss the chance now to know her better. I will think often of Todd and “the girls.” I’ll hope for his healing after this stunning and painful loss he and her family have suffered.  But all of us who knew her feel blessed to have spent a little time with her and felt the love that she felt toward life, her “Toddles” and “the girls.”

“Jenny sees where she’s going;

After a journey so long.

A fight she knew would have some meaning – with so much courage;

Despite the odds.

Her Toddles-her girls-her family-her friends –

Made her smile and laugh that laugh that only means

pure Jenny.”

Rest well.

Deer in Headlights

You know the expression: “She just looked like a deer in headlights when the food started burning.” Now, I know where the expression came from – Route 70 in South Jersey. Every Tuesday since September last year, I’ve been making a weekly run out to Ocean County for a meeting with a client. It’s a straight shot from Cherry Hill out Route 70 – 50 minutes to one meeting site; about 47 miles to the other site, depending on where they call the meeting that week. After Medford, Route 70 becomes the main road through the New Jersey Pinelands. There are homes and some businesses, but it’s mostly rural South Jersey along the road. In the nearly two dozen Tuesdays I’ve made the drive to and from Ocean County, I have ALWAYS seen a dead deer on the side of the road; sometimes two dead deer. Today, it seemed like a dead animal zoo – first a skunk, then the deer and I believe a raccoon- all within about a half mile. I try not to look. I remember playing Bambi’s mom in the second grade and singing my first solo wearing my paper bag ears and tail my mom made for me. When the deer runs out into the road, likely in the dead of night, at dusk or pre-dawn, the deer freezes in the roadway; the deer doesn’t know which way to go to get out-of-the-way. In that split second- it’s over.

I can’t help but feel sad when I see that carcass wondering how long it’s been there; did the animal suffer if it wasn’t killed instantly. Today, there was blood. Bambi’s mom – worrying about the young. Then I bounce back remembering just a few weeks ago as we drove up Roosevelt Boulevard out of Northeast Philadelphia and into Bucks County, when I saw a herd of deer prancing about 25-40 yards off the roadway into the woods near the Pennypack Nature Center. It was the Saturday of the snowstorm weekend, so the deer were really looking majestic in the snowfall. It was amazing that so close to a multi-lane highway and not far from buildings and homes, these six or seven deer, knew their boundaries. I’m sure there’s the occasional Bambi or Bambi’s mom or dad prancing out into traffic and losing the race across the boulevard, but I will always remember those deer prancing through the snowfall and NOT being deer in headlights.