Impossible Blue

In this one you are showing me off to Mom and the camera.  You are so proud to have me, your chubby little toddler, stuffed securely in your backpack, ready to roll, bouncing along on your shoulders.

I don’t remember being that small up at Donner Lake.  But I remember several summer vacations there, after that.  The Sierra Club lodge; so old, with heavy wooden beams across an enormous dining hall.  Pancakes and strangers; sharing breakfast with other families.

I go to Donner Lake every summer now, with my loving, comfortable husband.   Just coming over the grade, the first glimpse of the impossibly blue lake, shimmering and welcoming, is my thrill.  Donner Lake, the mountains, the pine trees, the sandy families all over the place – this is another home of mine.  Here I breathe better, my skin feels better.  We brought you back with us in 2004 and in this photo you are frail and old; 90 years old, sitting on the lakeshore, not splashing in the water with me.  But watching me, and I’m still calling, “Daddy, look at me! Watch this!”

The lake is the same, our rolls are reversed.  I make sure you are secure in your chair; I shake the sand from your shoes.  But even with this twist of time it feels the same.  Your bright blue eyes reflect the shimmer of the lake.  Your smile is wide, as wide as in old photos.  Somehow you do still carry my on your back. – August 2007


One Response

  1. Wow. crying like a baby. Your place of memories and home is Donner Lake. Mine is Yosemite. My parents first took us to Yosemite when I was in kindergarten, and we returned for several more summers, always staying at the Redwood Cabins in Wawona. While I returned to yosemite as a teen (in my rockclimbing days), my family returned to celebrate my dad’s 70th birthday. After that, my husband and I initiated winter trips to Wawona, and brought along my parents, in what became our new tradition. My dad passed away 2 years ago, and my heart is filled with the joy knowing that while he would have never ventured to Yosemite– a place he loved–in winter on his own, we gave him the gift of magnificent snowy landscapes and evenings spent with family warmed by a roaring fire in the cabin.

    On my desk are two small rocks I pocketed from the Merced River at the swimming hole where, as a child, i jumped off a boulder into my dads arms, giggling with delight. The next time I visit my father’s grave–whose epitaph reads “I’d rather be in Yosemite”–I will lay these tokens of fond memories in gratitude for the moments of beauty we shared.

    Thank you Arvis, for so beautifully capturing the circle.

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