Friday, July 15, 2005

From the Lake

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Every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend when I was a child, our family would visit Lake Taghkanic State Park in Columbia County. We'd join up with our cousins, uncles, aunts, friends and grandparents for a day-long picnic, from breakfast until sunset. We had a great shady spot on the east side of the park with our own boat "dock" (rocks) and ball field, creek (complete with slimey salamanders and frogs) and a small, family-oriented beach (with snack-bar and very echoey maze of changing rooms) within walking distance.

The kids would take turns getting water for cooking from the only water faucet up the hill, beyond the playground, carrying large pots and pitchers back and forth, splashing most of it out before we arrived at our destination. Then we'd be sent off on a stick hunt for the bonfire. Then a worm hunt for fishing. Then a salamander hunt. We thought it was all fun, but now I know it was just our parents' way of getting some quiet time at the lake.

The days were filled with boat rides, father vs. kid ball games, mahjong for the moms and much food and drink. They'd let us fish with poles made from sticks and line and we'd use squished up hot dog rolls and bread (and Cheetos, oddly) for bait.

We'd hike up to the "Castle" (watertower) and try to spook kids walking up the hill with our ghost noises. We'd climb the circular staircase and look out the windows at the long views to the Catskills to the West and mostly tall trees to the east. We'd hike back down to the picnic area just in time for lunch or dinner when we'd feast on bbq'd pork and burgers and hot dogs. We got to eat chips and soda to our fill (a special treat at our house) and roasted marshmallows in the evening. Then we'd load our cars up again and take the long (40 minutes) ride home.

I take my kids there now, but they prefer the larger, teenager-filled and thus, noisier, west beach. I don't mind, as long as I can find a shady tree to sit under. We're going with some friends next week. I hope to have more photos of the lake and maybe the kids in the rowboats.


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