Drop a leaf into the Green River and it would transition from the tiny rapids beneath our covered bridge to a glassy creek, lazily winding through the Tuxedo valley until opening up into an expansive lake, the mouth of which is spanned by an ancient and decommissioned iron truss bridge: Lake Summit.
Adjacent to that old bridge is the modern replacement across which we drove, giving us the day’s first look at the water. We’ve been awake for some time already but the lake appears still asleep. We turn onto a gravel road passing by small houses pocketed into the hillside and arrive at tiny shed-roof boathouse straddling the shoreline.
The water and sky are just as clear as one another. Large fish can be seen muscling by with ease. A quick division to pair up the sailors is the last step before the docks become alive. Suddenly the campers scramble with naval urgency, gathering masts, booms, and dagger boards, while others are spontaneously abandoning land to retrieve their vessels from the moorings.
Aside from the kicking agitations of swimmers, the lake remained placid. There wasn’t a single puff of wind, but they didn’t notice or didn’t care and rigged their boats just the same. Piece by piece, they made ready for their voyages and, just as the first halyard pulled on the cloth, a light breeze appeared, invoked by the offering of sails.
A mallard mother passed by with five ducklings, paddling at a speed not much slower than the sailboats. Mirthful voices carried over the water from one boat to another. The lake was waking up. Mark and Frank were in a Sunfish, one at the helm and the other perched on the bow like the carved figurehead of a Caravel. But he is no voiceless statue, calling and hailing out across the morning to others in search of a competitor for a low-speed race. Elsewhere, another boy is simply sounding out into the air, shouting the word “Echo!” over and over, waiting each time for the sound to play off of the surrounding mountainsides.
August passes near the dock at a jogging pace, waving from his Sunfish like a yacht club version of Danger Zone’s Maverick. Instead of jet turbines, he scoots along on a noiseless zephyr, the only sound a slight gurgle as the water slips by under-hull. Afar, the other boats are ghosting about gently, constellating in the open space around a counselor on a paddleboard, flying their colorful sails as sigils of leisure.
But the mountains are known for hiding winds. A stiff breeze makes its way across the water, leaving a footprint of ripples as it approaches the boats. The entire drama can be seen from the docks. The gust strikes; boats heel; wits snap-to. The helmsmen adjusts, knuckles whiten around the sheet, and the boats zip off at an impressive clip. No capsizes today. The mountains, having played their cards, resume with gentle airs, and the lighthearted diversion continues.
Farther still, vaulted clouds fill the sky, possibly gathering into the nascent thunderheads of an afternoon storm. As I leave to return to camp, a boat calls to another: “Now do you wanna race?”