In the summer boats are infrequent, in winter they are thoroughly absent. The far shore is a long two miles away, though, in the brilliant but short January light, it looks much closer. Sometimes the curtain of snow comes down wet and heavy, shrouding even the closest juts of land from view.
Occasionally, when the wind is particularly rough, the lake is troubled with roiling, dirty looking waves, but it is most often lapping at its edges in soporific kind of way. Sometimes the lake becomes so still that you can see all the way down twelve or fifteen feet, through the aggressive weeds, to the bouldery bottom and watch monster-sized carp nibble the green growth from the dock pilings.
Many of the homes here are empty, their occupants warm and snug in some big, far-off city. Traffic is light all the way out here. The geese which invaded our neighborhood have finally decided to move on to warmer climes. If you stand by the water on a day like this it’s easy to imagine you’re the only person in miles and miles of lake and forest expanse.
The sound of the water rolling in beneath the silent falling snow has a hypnotizing effect. It’s elemental, primordial, timeless. It sweeps past the individual and speaks to the species. “I was here before you,” it says, “and I will be here long after you are gone.”
I can be alone in space when at the lake in winter. No people, no animals, no noise. But Cayuga stands alone in time; its practical eternality reaching past the furthest horizon of my imagination.