An old couple sits on the beach. They are looking out over the lake on the Fourth of July, using binoculars to observe all the young people in boats and in the water, having fun. The old couple enjoys it . . . for a while. Then it becomes sad.
Kim and I, like most people, started celebrating the Fourth of July on the Third of July. We celebrated, first, by pulling weeds and trimming trees, stopping for occasional water (aka “to hydrate”). We continued our celebration by enjoying a geezer-hour early dinner featuring grilled steaks and a Caesar salad. Then we took our second small glass of wine down to our beach chairs to watch folks celebrating on Torch Lake.
It was quite a scene, with boats of all sizes and shapes, but mainly jet skis and pontoon boats, with a few what we used to call “speed boats” thrown in. We live close to a sandbar where many of them anchor, and it was enjoyable to get out our binoculars to watch the action. For those of you who know Torch Lake, our modest sandbar is not “The Sandbar” at the southern end of the lake, an area crowded with hundreds of boats along with the noise and trash one would expect from a major party. But on this weekend, we had maybe 30 well-behaved boats with well-behaved people.
So, there we were. The boats were filled with young people. They appeared to be in their late teens or early twenties, but at my age most people appear young. They were sitting on the decks not observing social distancing, or swimming in pairs, or zooming around on jet skis. Not many paddle boards, sailboats or kayaks – they were out earlier in the day. We noticed a lot of friends being friendly, a few drinking beer, most of them just sunning. And we were sitting there, enjoying the sights and sounds – motors, laughter, some music, the waves – feeling old and, upon reflection, a bit sad. Our families were far away. Our neighbors here are either having fun with their families or decided not to travel here because of the risk. Our closest friends in Traverse City live 40 miles away and are busy with their own lives or just being careful. We finished our wine and went back up to the house to do the dishes.
We went down to the shore about the same time on the 4th, and again, seeing all the friends on the water having fun, we felt separated and alone. After about ten minutes we decided to start pulling weeds. Then we went inside to watch “Naked and Afraid,” feeling a bit naked and afraid.