Those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer

Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
Those days of soda and pretzels and beer
Roll out those lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer
You'll wish that summer could always be here\*

Here in Massachusetts, I wish that summer would just get here already! It's still cool in the evenings, low 60s; no balmy breezes, no crickets chirping. Not even bats flapping around drunkenly at dusk. More like the middle of May than like the end of July.

Yesterday afternoon was decent enough, though, and I took the opportunity to go kayaking on Lake Cochichewick, which is just a mile down the road from my house. Lake Cochichewick is our town water supply, and in the wake of 9/11, I never expected they'd open it up for recreational use -- but back in May, 2002, unbeknownst to most everybody, they started issuing boating permits:

Certain watercrafts are allowed and must be designed to be manually propelled by oars or paddles. Rowing shells, johnboats, dinghies, rowboats, canoes and kayaks are acceptable as long as the occupants are isolated from contact with the lake. Boats must not have any thru-holes (e.g. self-bailers) that would allow contact between the occupants and the lake water. Electric motors are acceptable as an alternate form of propulsion. The maximum length of a motorized craft is 15 feet. Inflatable boats, windsurfers and seaplanes are not allowed. No domestic animals are allowed to be in boats, on the ice, or in the water at any time.

All I care about is the kayak part. I don't have a seaplane (a rowing shell, a johnboat, or a dinghy), and my dog hates the water. Anyway, they never made much noise about starting to issue permits, so it was two years (this spring) before I heard about it. My wife brought back news from the local YMCA, which is like the General Store of old. Keep your ears open there, and you will soon know everything that goes on in our town. Everything.

This one bit of news was a surprise and a delight. A delight because the lake is absolutely pristine and beautiful, big enough to be interesting, small enough to circumnavigate in a couple or three hours, depending on how hard you want to paddle. A surprise because it backs up on dozens of multi-million dollar estates, and I figured their owners would never go for boaters in their back yard. But (to extend the musical theme) "this land is your land, this land is my land", and as the town lake, I guess it's more or less my lake, at least to share.

My favorite house -- which I could never even see, much less approach from the front -- literally sits in the lake. It's just across the way from the foundation of the original North Andover Country Club clubhouse. The Trustees of Reservations write, in their description of Weir Hill (which borders the lake), "Moses T. Stevens helped found the North Andover Country Club, which built in 1897 a clubhouse whose half-hidden foundation can be seen in the southeast corner of Weir Hill, right on the shore of Lake Cochichewick." The foundation of this house doesn't match the rest of it -- there are these strange-looking, bricked-up portals in what would normally be, on a land-sitting house, the basement. So it's plausible that it was, once, the foundation for a different sort of structure. "At the time, members would paddle across the lake to the links to play golf and then back to the club house for dinner and dancing in the evening." I'm guessing this is where they pulled up on the golf course side.

How totally cool. I was walking -- or rather paddling -- in the footsteps of history, and I didn't even know it.

What made the day complete for me was, of course, stopping for ice cream on the way home. (Being only a mile from the house, this was truly serendipitous.) Treadwell's Ice Cream sits on the corner of Rtes. 125 and 133, just off the northern tip of the lake. In keeping with the outdoors, fresh air, healthy theme of the day, I made it a fresh raspberry sundae with low carb vanilla ice cream and no nuts on the whip cream.

I hope you had as much fun as I did on that (rare) lazy, hazy, crazy summer afternoon.

\*Sung by Nat King Cole, words by Charles Tobias, music by Hans Carste


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