the room

All nine of us fit comfortably in this room that puts us at eye level with the water. The room is enclosed with continuous windows on two sides that allow every bit of sun and breeze and sound to come in. There are pass through windows opening to the opposite wall into a kitchen that seems to be occupied just about a hundred percent of the time for one thing or another. There is a couch on this wall facing out to the immense sky above the water that hands down, is probably the most comfortable couch I’ve had the pleasure of making my bed at night. Sleeping in the room when the rest of the house quiets is pure joy and I wake to the sun rising every morning above the eastern shore on the other side of the lake.

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The room is just big enough for my five year old nephew to romp play with my parents five year old golden retriever while everybody else is occupying the edges engaged with a book or conversation or game. One end of the room is filled with a large round table and chairs.

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There are two plush rocker chairs at the other end, one of which was the scene of the funniest moment here so far, of chair catapulting me back with such force, drink splashing on adjacent window and legs flying overhead, and the entire effort of me trying to helplessly extract myself videotaped to a symphony of gut splitting laughter that filled the room.

About twelve feet of grass outside the windows separate us from a low concrete apron just wide enough to hold a single line of chairs and the edge of the lake on the other side. There is something about being so close to the water here. From this room we can hear every little lap and ripple in calm, and the rhythmic crashing of water against the wall during storm. The thing about this room is that it holds the full range of sunny to stormy family interaction.  This week is no exception.  And what I am appreciating is how easily we roll with it all while ever so perceptively strengthening the threads that bind us all together.

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The room draws us in and draws us out. Out into the clear warm water that has held such pleasure and fun for generations of our family returning each year to the essence of clear lake water and home.

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This year, it is the endless combinations of family on paddle boards.in waterplay that dominate the landscape in front of us in the space of the lake that extends from the room, offering a constant show of brothers and cousins ranging in age from five years to twenty-one years sharing time together…

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Like the lake, the carpet of grass outside is simply an extension of the room. Here there are more chairs and toys and places to sit and eat. Looking north from this space there are bucolic scenes of dramatic skies against the promise of vessels moving swiftly with the wind.

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Looking down is water so clear in the afternoon sun that you feel you can touch the plants swaying in the gentle current below.

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or watch the playful forms of resident ducklings with their mother…

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And then there are the meals.  We’re all still talking about the memorable kebab dinner two nights ago inspired by my sister-in-law Sam, individual skewers of marinated garlic lemon chicken, salmon, tomatoes, scallions, baby peppers, and steak, all accompanied by her homemade teriyaki sauce of reduced soy, mirin & sake, a pot of garlic jasmine rice and a bowl of freshly sliced cucumbers.  A perfect combination of fresh and delicious made possible only by easy collaboration and a mutual love of making nourishment an event, everyone taking part in some way, whether to grill, set the table, pour the wine, or finish cleaning the dishes.  We managed to squeeze all nine of us around a table in the outside extension of the room in honor of this unexpectedly glorious meal that so beautifully captured the spirit of all being in the same place at the same time, a snapshot of family happy at its best..

Mostly though, when the outside fun is done, the room draws us all back in to the large round table inside around which we sit to share meals that combine all the flavors and talents of this family each day.  Last night it was a large family size frittata, grilled steak and a bowl of freshly picked cucumbers and tomatoes dressed in oil and cider vinegar. This time, Dad plays sous chef and slices the large sweet onions and local new potatoes of every color just picked that day. In a large stew sized cast iron pan, the onions are sautéed until translucent, potatoes added and cooked until just soft. Orange yellow and red baby peppers are sliced into thin rings and added. About a cup’s worth of fresh Thai basil from my parents weekly farm share is roughly chopped and added to a dozen whisked eggs. The last and most important family inspired ingredient is the feta cheese, with a half cup borrowed and crumbled from one of the large blocks that will be consumed by the time the week is over, mixed with the eggs and basil. Heat is turned to high under the pan while the egg mixture is added, stirring just enough to integrate all the ingredients and letting them set before placing in a 375 degree oven to bake. Meanwhile, steaks are lightly brushed with olive oil and grilled by brother Rob. Dad prepares yet another bowl of cucumbers and tomatoes from his own garden. The frittata is done when the top is puffy and sizzling and with a little shake of the pan, all holds firm…

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Around the table, thick slices of multicolored frittata, perfectly cooked steak, cucumbers & tomatoes are loaded onto plates, hands are linked and heartfelt blessings offered. The room is glowing, holding the love for this time together and for each other as we enjoy the end of another day.

Now the last morning, I look out through this space that has held so much for us this week.  It is a plain and unremarkable view at the moment but it is early and the room is just waking up…

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