The Biggest Sky

As we wound down the bumpy dirt road, I looked up from the book I was reading to peer out the window. If I craned my neck in just the right way, I could catch a glimpse of the sparkling blue water.

“Open the window, Dad,” I urged, eager to breathe the sweet scent of pines and mountain air, the unmistakable smell of the lake.

I had all I needed with me: my bathing suit, Tevas, and a big stack of library books. I could barely contain my excitement as we worked to set up camp with quick, practiced motions, everything done in a smooth rhythm after 16 years of repeating the same tasks.

And then, at last, the beach.

Kicking off my sandals and flinging my towel down on the sand, I yelled “Race you to the water,” to my brothers, and we were running, flailing and kicking in the shocking cold and plunging under, only to come back up squealing and gasping for breath.

And for that long weekend every summer, there is bliss. Days stretch on forever when there is nothing planned, nothing promised, no need for a watch. But full, too, are these days, with bike rides and secret missions on code-named trails, forts accessible only by braving, barefoot, stretches of calf-deep mud, diving competitions off of the dock, and the sticky goodness of s’mores.

Now, there is less time spent playing hide-n-seek and more lying on the beach at night, watching for shooting stars and talking about life. The pressures are no longer so easy to leave behind.

Discussions of college choices come up over huckleberry pancakes, and complaints about summer reading arise as we lay on the beach together, pursuing that elusive perfect tan.

But the stillness remains, and the stars, each a twinkling possibility, beckoning to me, filling a sky so immense you think you could fall into a world full of dreams.

I have never seen a bigger sky.

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