I like to arise at 5:30 a.m. to walk along the lake. It’s how I spend time with Him. I revel in the stunning dawn-transformation that helps me ponder subjects my usually congested mind lacks room to entertain. An eerie, nocturnal splendor struggles to maintain sovereignty over Lake Cameron at this early hour. My thoughts mimic the ebbing of the sea: at first, silent, hovering over the moonlit water; then crashing gently, stirring my senses to the possibilities of a new day. This ritual is deeply embedded in my soul. I live in a community where sense of family is redefined outward, expanding exponentially to include once total strangers, their children, and their children’s children.
Ours was the twelfth home built. In the early days the neighborhood seemed to fast-forward from the earth before our very eyes. We knew and loved the carpenters, the plumbers, the trim-men, and the painters—all the trades-people who earned their keep from the sweat of their brow—and the vendors who came to feed, support, and supply them. They were all part of our lives then. I have often thought that Colonial Williamsburg and other classic American villages must have been similar in origin, uniting people in a harmonious pageant of mutual beneficence. And, as the several creeks feeding our lake contributed their living water, other neighbors arrived on cue to share the bounty: exotic ducks, geese, herons, and fast little birds you typically see and hear at the beach, and a variety of other friends furred and feathered. It’s not uncommon for one of the many moss-covered oaks along the lake to appear as a giant cotton plant, gleaming white with storks bedding down for the night. On a recent walk, an otter accompanied me briefly, playing lazily just off the bank.
I’m only minutes into my stroll now. The air is crisp and refreshing. Welch Cove lies ahead of me. The lake is on my left. Lucas Point Hamlet across Lake Cameron is still. The mostly white homes of early twentieth-century southern vernacular line the opposite shore in picturesque detail that invites the eye to study and consume. Their tin roofs reflect the light of the moon as if covered in snow. Porch lights reflect in the water. The “meeting house” is perched high on Chapel Hill in simple majesty as if keeping watch over the homes below. The lake stretches out nearly a mile before me like a vast slab of polished slate. I must relish this scene fervently. It’s about to change! As I pass the round-about entrance to Welch Cove, the sun snatches night away. The mere hint of its rising alters the landscape dramatically. The dark slate has turned pink. The large birds feeding along the shore assume that I now see them and lunge skyward, squawking away in protest. I’m reminded of a scene from James Michener’s Chesapeake.
As I complete my route through Welch Cove and the lake re-emerges on my right, the town square is visible across the water and waking up. In fact, the whole village where I live is stretched out before me in panoramic grandeur. The sun’s first rays stream from over the hill behind me and splash bright orange in the windows of homes and shops alike. I smile, thinking of the commute from my bungalow to my studio there in the square—at least three minutes . . . on foot. What a beautiful place to live and write and enjoy time with my Lord.
With my soul have I desired thee in the night;
yes, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early.
Contributing Editor Jeff S. Barganier is a novelist and freelance writer. Learn more about him here.