girls weekend

Two girls.

Hot Springs.

Lake Hamilton.

Stand up paddle boarding.

Browsing the shops downtown.

Underwater photoshoots irrupting into laughter.

Quiet mornings and peaceful sunsets.

Two days that ended all too quickly.


i'm still here

Maybe I'm on summer/lake/vacation time, but I just haven't felt the need to sit down and chronicle my days as much as I did during the school year. Time lately has been lazy and full and busy and quiet all at once, much like summer tends to be. The cicadas haven't hit full chorus yet, but I expect them to any evening now. Our magnolia tree has exploded in beautiful white blossoms and I like to cut off a few and bring them inside, filling jelly jars and mason jars with the flowers, the house smelling like a perfumery. 

We had a fun filled few days down on Lake Hamilton in Hot Springs. We filled it with morning chats over coffee with my father-in-law on our condo's balcony overlooking the cove below us, listening to the lake wake up with the sounds of geese and early morning fishermen in their bass boats. Later, we'd jet about the lake on my FIL's jet ski or laze around on our paddle boards, exploring near by coves, jumping into the water when we got hot.

Or getting caught by a rogue wave and, ahem, falling off your board and getting caught on camera by your wonderfully sweet husband. 

Really, a wave did get me (and that's my story and I'm sticking to it)!

David and I did shoot an enduro mountain bike race, sweating it out on a Sunday morning at Big Brushy Recreation Area in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, about an hour's drive from Hot Springs. It was itchy and hot and a bit exhausting and I never had more fun. I made some connections and new friends, and David and I both can't wait to shoot the next race.

Hot Springs and Lake Hamilton, the two places that are my home away from home. David and I have been going to Hot Springs (and the lake) for 24 years and three months. I add the three months because I had just entered my third trimester with Meghan when we made our first visit in 1993. David's parents chose Hot Springs to retire after working in the government. It's a beautiful town, nestled in the heart of the Ouachita Mountains, but it's really the lake that we spend the most time on. It always makes me sad to have to say good bye to it whenever it's time for us to leave and come home, but it is nice to know that it's just 4 hours away and easy to get to. In fact, Meghan and I are planning a Girls Weekend next month, bringing my paddle board and my little underwater camera that is absolutely amazing and fun to shoot with. Really, the boys and I couldn't get over the quality of the pictures from just a little point-and-shoot. And I don't have to worry about using my second camera body in the water anymore, saving me quite a bit of anxiety, even with the waterproof housing on it.

So yes, I'm still here, trying to find the discipline to sit at my desk and peck out a few words to describe my days. I'm still busy taking pictures, of that I will never tire of, it's just the time sitting at my desk, culling and processing, uploading and sharing that I find a bit draining lately. There's just so much Out There to see and experience that I'd rather be doing instead. 

The freedom of summer time . . . .

The Lake

We've been coming to this lake for nearly 24 years, making the first of countless journeys with Meghan still in my belly. We had driven down from northern Virginia to help David's parents settle into their new condo, freshly retired from a life in the U.S. government. Their new place was empty except for a few furnishings leftover from the 1960's, but the lake, oh the lake . . .

The sounds of Lake Hamilton are the constant lap, lap, lapping of water against the boat docks down below the balconies of the condominium complex, the gentle humming of pontoon boats and the sudden roar of bass boats or speed boats. Sometimes you can hear shouts of laughter wafting over the water from the passing boats and shrieks of happiness coming from jet skis.

The sound of geese calling in the early morning light as they fly over the water accompany our quiet voices as we drink our coffee and talk about nothing and everything. Mockingbirds and cardinals welcome the new day as the hummingbirds fiercely battle over the feeder dangling from our balcony ceiling. We make tentative plans for the day - - - mountain biking, then jet skiing, then going out for BBQ - - - but they are just tentative. We make plans but we don't always stick with them.

Meghan and Joe have a second home at the lake, Meghan now making the quick trip from Fayetteville to Hot Springs on her own to visit with her PaPaw; Joe can now drive the jet ski by himself, relishing the independence to explore Lake Hamilton all by himself. I find myself in such need of the lake and the water and as soon as I am in it, all the cares, stress and worries of the world disappear.  The lake is as much a part of our family as David's father. The lake gives us hope and peace and beauty, asking nothing in return.

It's home to us all.

(This weekend, I brought my underwater housing that I bought at the tail end of summer last year to play with. David and Joey and I had a ball playing with it, and I can't wait to explore this new genre further.)