The Lake This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Deep within the cover of towering pines in Hiram, Maine, is a dusty cabin, built many years ago by my grandfather. It’s front porch overlooks the shimmering waters of Barker Pond. Even though it’s technically a pond, I could ask anyone, and they would say it’s a lake. About one hundred feet from the cabin is a wooden bridge that can only accommodate one car at a time. The bridge separates Barker Pond and an actual pond that strafes the right side of the cabin. I have traveled with my family and occasionally with friends to this secluded haven since before I can remember. It is relieving to be able to separate myself from the rest of the world, be it only two or three times a year.

Each time I drive north for three and a half hours and step out of the car into the open air of Hiram, I gain a sense of freedom. Just anticipating this moment is thrilling. We first turn off the main road onto the bumpy dirt road. Each bump is a reminder of how close we are. The road branches off multiple times like a family tree. Our beagle, Hank, begins to whine. He knows he will soon be free from his rolling cage that is our Ford F150. The truck comes to a stop before the back door of the cabin. I step out of the maroon pickup, a metal manmade mass that stands out against nature’s backdrop of foliage. I take in a deep breath of the crisp air. With that one breath of air, I know I’m in a place far from home.

The aroma of pine surrounds me. The needles on the trees glisten from the light spring rain. I can still taste the moister in the air. Tiny mushrooms the size of quarters have sprouted in bunches at the bases of the trees the clothes line is attached to. As I enter the building through the squeaky screen door full of patches where squirrels have bitten through, my nose tingles with the smell of dust. But this is no ordinary dust. This is nostalgic dust. It makes me want to smile as I snivel and sneeze.

Before I even get a chance to take more than two steps inside, my dad yells to me to help him unpack. Grabbing a cooler anchored with more than enough food for a two-day excursion, I haul our frozen goodies into the kitchen where I drop it on the counter with a thud. Looking up, I see that same Brita water filter attached to a clear plastic jug that we use to get the rusty metal particles out of the tap water. As I go to unload my overstuffed suitcase from the truck, I pass the ancient refrigerator that needs to be slammed shut to keep a tight seal.

Once all of our belongings are unpacked, I walk Hank down the rotted wooden steps imbedded within the hill that slopes down towards the bridge, while my dad drains the plumbing of antifreeze. My hand runs along the curvy, moist branch that’s been nailed to the trees to be used as a handrail. I walk down the road that is composed of silica and loose rock. Hank is zipping back and forth from each side of the road to ensure he takes in every smell. Sometimes when he is breathing fast enough and is furiously trying to track a scent, his jowls will flap back and forth making an unusual “bllp, bllp, bllp” sound.

I clop onto the pressure treated wooden planks of the bridge and look out over the lake. The water is like glass. The only sound is the roar of the water rushing over the dam on the other side. Above me to my right stands a tree at the end of the bridge. Fishing line is entangled amongst the branches. Because of the errors of reckless fishermen (myself included) have caused hooks, bobbers, and sparkling, multicolored lures to dangle from the tree like Christmas ornaments.
In my head I picture all of the fun times I’ve had here, swimming, water skiing, fishing, canoeing. I think of what a wonderful place this is and realize how fortunate I am to be able to escape to a place where I don’t have to worry about homework, sports, or my job. When I’m at the cabin, I have no immediate commitments. The hubbub of everyday life cannot touch me in this sanctuary. Out here, out here in this little world of mine, there’s only me, my dog, this bridge, and the lake.





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