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Living on Lake Champlain

08/04/03 12:00AM By Ruth Page
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(Host) Ruth and Proc Page lived on a hill on the shore of Lake Champlain for half a century. Ruth reminisces about the immense effect the lake had on their lives and spirits.

(Page) Living on Lake Champlain for 50 years is rather like knowing a person intimately for half a century. Our family became familiar with all the lake's moods. We knew when we saw banks of heavy black clouds over the Adirondacks, blowing in phalanxes across the sky to Burlington, the rain would hit us in 30 minutes.

We could quickly pull up the canoe and shove it up against our rocky cliff so it wouldn't wash away; time to run up the wooden steps hauling towels and kids' toys and rubber tubes to the garage. If we were quick enough, we could get inside and watch the storm through the picture windows.

Lake storms are stirring, speeding the heartbeat. Occasionally there would be a small motor-boat, racing for the nearest bay or beach; more than once we saw sailboats trying to get to harbor, and watched tensely until we could see they'd make it to Burlington or Colchester. More than once a boat at hazard pulled into the little beach at Sunset Cliff, next door to us, for safety.

And oh, the wonder of glorious sunsets over the lake. Many were breathtaking, of an indescribable richness of color. They were a superb spiritual lift when we were tired or discouraged at the end of an especially tough day.

To rise in the morning and instantly see our spectacular view was a treat that I believe we fully appreciated. Because of it, we had to do computer-work with our backs to the lake or we'd have spent the time in daydreams.

The lake's face changed constantly, as did its color. We hated seeing the gray shape of the Winooski River flowing past our house after a storm; it took a long time for the lead-colored, silt-laden waves to mingle with the rest of the lake water. But we loved all the days when splashing sequins of sunlight glinted on every clear, blue-green ripple.

Our kids fished in the lake, and in springtime often provided us with fresh, crispy perch suppers. In frozen winters the moon path glittered right from Earth's partner up to our pebbly shore. Mom and the kids all learned to ice-skate on Lake Champlain (dad had skated all his life) and it was a joyous, freed-of-gravity sensation to swoop out on a broad lake that felt endless.

Lake Champlain profoundly affects the spirits, thoughts and sense of connectedness to Earth and all of nature, in those who come to know her well. We are thankful for our good fortune.

This is Ruth Page.
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