Saturday, August 08, 2015

Return to Brantingham Lake - 42 Years Later

Lake after sunset

This weekend is turning out to be a wonderful and also emotional weekend.  I am back at the family summer "camp" on Brantingham Lake in the Adirondack Mountains of northern New York State for the first time in 42 years.  It is my husband's first visit.  It's a long story as to why I haven't been back, but better late then never sums up the situation.  My maternal grandparents purchased the camp in 1938 but the family connection goes back far longer.  There are photos of my great grand parents here at the lake in 1896 and subsequent years.  Among the many photos are those of my late mother during her last visit to Brantingham in the summer of 2010.   So, so many memories.  Above is a photo of the lake just after sunset last night and below is a photo of the house and views of the lake early this morning.  

In my June 2015 VEER Magazine I wrote in part about growing up gay and here's the portion that looked at the role this place played in my life:

If the school year was a nightmare, summers were what likely saved me and helped me survive my teen years.  Through my mother's  family, we had a summer home on Brantingham Lake in the western Adirondack Mountains in northern New York State.  As my siblings and I got older, we spent large parts of the summer at the "camp" as such summer homes are called in local parlance.  And this allowed me an opportunity to reinvent myself, if you will.  While I truly sucked at school team sports, I excelled at slalom water skiing, sailing, canoeing and swimming.  I could compete and hold my own.  In addition, at camp, we had a whole different circle of friends, most of whom were from other parts of New York or surrounding states and were far more sophisticated than my school year friends.   Yes, I still struggled to "pray away the gay" and convince myself that I wasn't really attracted to some of my male friends.  And , yes, the mental gymnastics to deny the truth about my sexual orientation continued at Olympic proportions.  But these summers allowed me to finally feel somewhat good about myself.   As one friend from those years with whom I have reconnected through the magic of Facebook wrote in a post "the memories of the lake, the times in the boats at night, skiing in the mornings at 6am so as to be the only boat on the lake..... these are the memories that never leave me and are the ones I use to help me get to sleep at night."  They were the summer time experiences that helped me survive growing up gay.
There have been changes in the place over the years - most notably the loss of a number of huge pine trees felled in a severe "mircobust thunder storm some years back that wreaked havoc on the area - but other aspects have not changed at all.  
Camp in the fading sunset

Early morning view - mist over the lake
Early morning - mist over the water

1 comment:

Jay M. said...

Beautiful, just beautiful...the post, the place. Having spent some time canoeing the Fulton Chain, and visiting in the Finger Lakes region, I can say that I don't think there is more wonderful place in the United States. I'm glad it was such a special place for you, and that it's still around for you!!!

Peace <3