“I have spent many an hour, when I was younger, floating over its surface as the zephyr willed, having paddled my boat to the middle, and lying on my back across the seats, in a summer forenoon, dreaming awake, until I was aroused by the boat touching the sand, and I arose to see what shore my fates had impelled me to; days when idleness was the most attractive and productive industry.” — Henry David Thoreau, from “The Ponds,” Walden
Sometimes when I take my inflatable kayak out to a local lake, I’ll push the seat back and stretch out (after all, it’s not much different from an air mattress). You want a smallish lake for this — one that’s too small for power boats and WaveRunners. You close your eyes and feel the shifting angle of sunlight as the breeze spins the boat around slowly in not always predictable ways. You hear the water lapping against the sides of the boat and the rustle of leaves on shore.
And just like that I’m back there again. Conestoga Lake, early autumn. One of the last summery days — late enough in the season that you know you aren’t likely to get another day like that till next summer and it’s a day off and there are no commitments and nowhere else to go except back to the dock and home and so you just hang out there, in the middle of the lake and imagine that time has stopped right there, right in the middle of the afternoon of the last day of summer. You open your eyes and the sunlight sparkles off the water like a million flashbulbs.
“Many a forenoon have I stolen away, preferring to spend thus the most valued part of the day; for I was rich, if not in money, in sunny hours and summer days, and spent them lavishly; nor do I regret that I did not waste more of them in the workshop or the teacher’s desk.”
(About “A Year in Walden”)