What's Tony Thinking

Once More to the Lake


Some of you may recognize “Once More to the Lake” as the title of a completely lovely essay by the great E. B. White.  I think it is in his collection, “One Man’s Meat.”

And, indeed, we have returned once more to the Lake, in our case Wallowa Lake (see right). It is just a gorgeous fall day here. Fresh snow on the mountains. Aspens in full golden array. Tamaracks starting to turn.

We’ve planted two maples in recent years. One in memory of Bob Almquist. And another this spring in tribute to Larry Jones. Both are adding splendid color to things here as did those they memorialize who added such color to our lives and our world. See second photo of the Almquist tree.

I will be preaching the next two Sundays at Enterprise Community Congregational Church. Enterprise is the small town that is the County seat of Wallowa County. It is where my grandparents lived and my own parents grew up.

But there’s more to the story. While I was born in western Oregon, in the state capitol of Salem, my folks made the long trek back to Enterprise in the fall, November of 1948, so that I could be baptized in Enterprise Community Church, which was the church of my parents and grandparents.

Apparently in the mid-forties there were, in Enterprise, both a Methodist Church and a Presbyterian one. Neither was doing all that great. So they merged and together became a Congregational Church.  This is how I became first a “Congregationalist” (that and the splendid Congregational Church we went to back east), and subsequently, after a national merger, U.C.C. Such are the deep mysteries of my spiritual journey.

That said, I am a pretty marginal UCC’er these days. A couple years ago I changed my status with the UCC from “active retired” to “retired retired” or something like that. I did that in order to avoid the requirement to attend periodic “boundary training workshops” and denominational meetings. Having been to roughly ten such “boundary trainings” over the years, I felt well-trained in such matters, or beyond hope.

Nevertheless, today I received a notice that I was due, again, for boundary training. I replied that I thought my “retired retired” status got me off that hook. But if that weren’t the case, they could change my status to “dead.”

I’m not only marginal, I’m ill-mannered. Oh well.

I close this short missive with the opening paragraph of White’s essay:

“One summer, along about 1904, my father rented a camp on a lake in Maine and took us all there for the month of August. We all got ringworm from some kittens and had to rub Pond’s Extract on our arms and legs night and morning, and my father rolled over in a canoe with all his clothes on; but outside of that the vacation was a success and from then on none of us ever thought there was any place in the world like that lake in Maine. We returned summer after summer–always on August 1st for one month. I have since become a salt-water man, but sometimes in summer there are days when the restlessness of the tides and the fearful cold of the sea water and the incessant wind which blows across the afternoon and into the evening make me wish for the placidity of a lake in the woods. A few weeks ago this feeling got so strong I bought myself a couple of bass hooks and a spinner and returned to the lake where we used to go, for a week’s fishing and to revisit old haunts.”

You can find the whole piece on the internet, should you want the rest of the story.

In the meantime, and as another bard says, “Be well, do good work, and stay in touch.”



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