“have you SEEN the color of that water?” sara says to me, again, for what seems like the millionth time.
“it’s so beautiful.” i reply. and i mean it.
the color of the water in the cove is a seductive shade of perfect turquoise. it sings a silent song, which beckons you to its shore, the allure too strong and too serene to resist. like moths to a flame, even we land babies cannot resist the color of that water, the gentle bluffs rising from the waters edge, the quaking leaves of cedar, elm, oak and ash. the intermittent splash of baby bass, the distant echo of faraway voices from the opposite side of the shady cove, the yelp of a small dog, the billow of a big one. the honking of geese, too rebellious to adhere to their genetic makeup and fly north for the hot winter months.
Casey, his beard curled and greyed, his legs white, his eyes a bit down-turned and defeated, takes the old silver canoe without a paddle and splashes about the cove, until alone he capsizes. It’s shallow and he can swim. We lazily look over to the splashing from our perches atop the dock.
“Is he ok?”
“Yeah I see splashing, he’s fine.”
“Should we uh….help him or something?”
“Yeah I guess.”
And Reis walks over, helps Casey, and thus begins the casual teasing of the one-man-canoe-capsize for the remainder of the weekend.
“Who carries their birth certificate in their wallet?” we tease Casey as he assesses the soaked situation he has now found himself in.
“What’s next, Case, your social security card?” I tease as he begrudgingly pulls his floppy, wet social security card out of his dripping wallet. Cackles of laughter ensue, echoing off the bluffs, the metal interior of the dock, the supports of the pontoon boat swaying slowly beside us.
Sara and Jason crack Keystone Light after Keystone Light, and puff cigarette after cigarette, an exhibition of excessive intake, but fuck it; we’re on vacation. Reis and his friend Kim, visiting from Fort Collins, lounge on the table and chairs on the wooden planks of the dock. Kim does her best to keep it all in stride, but the wrinkles between her shoulder blades and rapid darting of her eyes suggests she may be a bit out of here element here in the middle of the Ozarks. And not that we can blame her – we’re one hell of a smoking, drinking, swearing motley crue, welcoming but abrasive to new faces. We do not accommodate, but we carry no judgement and heed no expectation.
i took some drugs. you know, to enhance the experience. LSD, my substance of choice, came on quickly and much stronger than expected. this was only my second time experimenting with this realm – the first time had been at this same location nearly a year ago. the colors’ vibrancy turned up, the butterflies scouting about the dripping karst rock formation near the dock expounded in infinite numbers, the clouds trailed off in spirals, whirlpools of the heavens. each leaf of rustling oaks melted into each other like flecks of cheddar on hot sourdough. cigarette after cigarette was smoked, the result of an unabiding oral fixation. using my phone was a challenge, i cannot comprehend the intricacies of technology in this primitive state of mind.
the experience was much more intense than planned – i guess that’s why they call it a “trip”? i couldn’t take the words, the colors, the stimulation of normalcy. so i took my little dog for a nap in the back of the VW, the world floating around us. for hours, we lay together, chasing an elusive sleep until the dial of the drugs ebbed down with time, and we emerged into the woods in time for the earliest embers of a campfire.
as the flames licked oak stumps, Sara opened package after package of smoked meat, lay it about casually on the iron grill. i cranked the tunes on the VW, grabbed my hoop and pulsed my brain and body, still alive with LSD, about the woods, moving my every inch to the demands of the hula hoop. beastie boys. bob dylan. band of heathens, talking heads. gorillaz. tom petty. we listened to anything and everything as the sun began to set over the pines and gentle rolling hills of the distance.
we spent sunset on the dock, Casey, Matt and i.
“I wish I could hit the pause button on this sunset.” i said, as I kicked my legs into the hammock Reis had hung earlier.
We blasted AMERICA, FUCK YEAH on Matt’s phone, and i laughed so hard, my face hurt. Casey vented some girl problems and i reassured him that women were in fact crazy, and he had nothing to worry about; he was a kind, sweet man, and if he waited, the right woman would come along. I hope this will not come to be a lie in later years. I sincerely hope.
And, as expected, the sun set, as it always seems to do. And we wandered up the lavender-butterfly covered bluff to the campfire and listened to music and cooked meat and drank and smoked and laughed. And laughed. I held court and held my belly as my stomach muscles stung with the extasy of laughter. A real good time, a genuinely happy moment among my motley crue of Arkansawyers.
I have never been this happy. I will always remember this feeling, of love, of wilderness, of pine trees, the gentle scent of smoke and cannabis and a cozy breeze coating everything in stillness. I slept in the back of the VW, my sweet dog lying soundly by my side, the light of nearby campfire reflecting about the wagon, the softness of it all. The ubiquity of perfection, here by the lake.
In the morning we cooked bacon, we tended the coals, we said one final goodbye to the dock and the emerald green waters of Beaver Lake.
“Have you SEEN the color of this water?!” Sara yelled to me from her perch atop a rocky outcropping.
“I can’t get enough of it!” I yelled back.
Sometimes, when looking down into the emerald water, i think it is perhaps gazing back up at me, my hazel eyes turned an envious green, if just for a moment. And the butterflies flit about, and the water drips slowly, and somewhere in the distance, the echoes of time reflect back up into my mind, a lost place of stillness; oh, the haunting color of that water. In dreams, it finds me still.