Sailboats on Lake Hefner

Every day for the past week, while driving Elle to and from her summer camp classes in the far northwest corner the city, I have been able to catch a glimpse of Lake Hefner. It is a busier place in the afternoon filled with bicyclists, joggers, dog-walkers, and general wanderers. On my way to pick her up from camp yesterday, I saw sailboats dotting the water near the lighthouse. Elle is usually too hungry and tired by the end of her camp day to take a walk with me by the lake, but this time I insisted. This Florida girl has been missing that view for quite some time.

Elle and I walked a short while from the parking lot to the lighthouse and met an elderly couple and their dog along the way. They pointed out a snake swimming in the water and we got to talking about Florida. It turns out one of their children lives in Jacksonville, another in the suburbs of Orlando. Our conversation was interrupted by the sounds of splashing and screams. Those sailboats must have been part of a class because I can’t imagine why else there would be so many of them clustered so closely to one another. Most of the time, at least one of them was completely on it side in the water with a few submerged people patiently waiting nearby. There was hardly a breeze yesterday, not even on the lake shore. I’m not entirely sure if this did any favors for those poor people trying to learn how to maneuver a sailboat. It was pretty fun to watch, though.

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Nantucket on my mind

Sometimes I am rewarded with good timing instead of good karma, unless you’re one of those people who considers them to be one and the same. I am not one of those people. Karma is karma, usually in a singular event. Good timing involves a number of events. Good timing requires good karma, I believe, but they are not the same thing.

Let me explain: Have you ever been introduced to something you knew nothing about only to later find yourself coming across this “something” all the time? I consider that good timing (and good observation skills). It happens to me an awful lot with words and only occasionally with facts. This instance involves Nantucket, which I will throw into the category of facts.

I have no affiliation with the island of Nantucket at all. My New World/New England ancestors got rich in the village of Salem, Mass., pre-witch hunts, converted a bunch of people into Baptists, and then tried to settle in New Amsterdam (New York City – Throggs Neck, anyone?) until the natives slaughtered the lot of them. My man John and the Throckmorton family survived and ran off to Rhode Island to found Providence. Also, the farthest into New England I’ve ever gone was Amish Country in Pennsylvania. Does that even count?

Not too long ago, I finished reading In the Heart of the Sea by Nathaniel Philbrick, a true story of a whaling disaster that originated in Nantucket. Needing some whimsy to decompress from the horrors of being stranded in the Pacific and the games of chance to see which of your shipmates gets cannibalized next, I took to reading Mat Johnson’s Pym. Again, there is a strong connection to the island of Nantucket. The story itself does not originate in Nantucket, but the story within the story does.

Lake Hefner lighthouse

Lake Hefner lighthouse

Last week while Matt and I were bicycling around Lake Hefner, we decided to stop for a break because, well…the wind, and benched ourselves near the Lake Hefner lighthouse. This was the first time I had ever paid attention to the plaque leading up to the structure itself. And guess what? It told me that the Lake Hefner lighthouse is an 36-foot tall replica of the Brandt Point lighthouse in Nantucket!

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You might think this is very unimportant, and maybe it is. But then you have to ask yourself: Why is there a replica of a Nantucket lighthouse in Oklahoma City? I haven’t figured this out yet. The reading of the books and the bike ride all occurred within three weeks of each other, which means this Nantucket thing keeps showing up in my life. Why? I haven’t figured this out yet, either, but I am a believer in good timing and weird little coincidences. Something is afoot.

Wind & Waves

Water-loving people must make do with what they have around them and this was evident to me the first time I saw a surfer in Lake Superior. The kinds of Nor’easters that I am only familiar with on the Florida coast make plenty of large waves on the Great Lakes, too (and are the reason most Lake Superior shipwrecks occurred). Oklahoma doesn’t get these Nor’easters, but she does get her fair share of wind. This, of course, makes windsurfing a pretty popular watersport around here.

washed up and cared for

Lake Hefner

Matt and I sat on a bench near the Lake Hefner lighthouse yesterday as I listened to the waves slapping the shore rocks. A few minutes later we hopped back onto our bicycles and headed into the wind for the 3-mile ride back to the truck. Naturally, we hadn’t noticed the wind during the first short leg of our trek as it was conveniently at our backs helping to move us along. Going into the wind – oh, it hurt and it burned. I even worried I wouldn’t be able to walk for days, but I couldn’t help but love being near the lake. Even one of my dearest cousins in Wisconsin gives her lake house all the credit for helping her get through some kick-in-the-gut life shit right now. Water and waves have some serious healing power, even if it is just to provide encouragement to pedal, pedal, pedal!

wind! of course.

Oklahoma wind. It is windy!

When Matt mentioned that our 6-mile round trip could have taken us almost completely around the lake, I was okay with that. There was no need to finish the entire trail on the first go. Besides, I’ll most definitely go back when the weather warms up again because I think it’s my new favorite nearby happy place.

Open Water | Open Spaces

lake hefner

A few days ago I realized that I have spent my entire pre-Oklahoma life on one peninsula or another. Peninsula – it’s such a romantic word, conjuring up thoughts of being surrounded almost entirely by calming, soothing water. Yes, this Floridian is still missing the water, but I was able to quell some of that homesickness last night at a lakeside restaurant by staring out at the sailboats and windsurfers and imagining the sound of the lapping waves left in their wake.

Oklahoma has a lot of lakes and rivers and they’ve been filling up, for the most part, with plenty of water, thanks to a few good downpours recently. The air has been warm and the sun has been shining and I am almost tempted to toss out my prescription Vitamin D supplements, but no! The forecast for Thursday is calling for a high of 46 degrees with lots of clouds. Because, well…why the *$#% not, right?

It’s been officially decided that I can probably be happy living near the coast, even if the weather isn’t ideal (New England – I’m looking at you!) or someplace with an ample amount of sunshine, but preferably in a sunny and small fishing village anywhere on the Eastern Seaboard.

That’s not happening anytime soon so I am happy to call Oklahoma City home as long as I can see scenes like this more often than not:

sailboat in lake hefner sun

lake hefner lighthouse

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The little spit of land on which the Lake Hefner Lighthouse resides could very well be considered a tiny peninsula, a breakwater, or even a jetty, perhaps. There are no oceans or Great Lakes nearby so I have to find familiarity in small-scale ways. But where Oklahoma is lacking in big, open water she more than makes up for in big, open spaces. I’m hoping to get much more of that in the coming months!

Snowfall

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Oklahoma’s state motto is “Labor Omnia Vincit” or, in English, “Labor Conquers All Things”. I believe it should be changed to “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a few minutes. It’ll change.” I can’t tell you how many people have said these words to me since I moved here a mere eight months ago, back in those days when the low temperature at night was 103 degrees.

Basically, this is a story that ended with us experiencing heavy snow coming down on us all day after having gone to bed with a forecast of mostly rain with a 20% chance of snow, at most 1-3 inches. And for the most part, that’s what we got. But by the time I spoke with my mother this afternoon, she had heard reports of up to 12 inches in Central Oklahoma. This is when I promptly hung up on her. Oh, I’m only kidding, but I did tell her not to mention such filth to me ever again.

All this snowfall was such a surprise to me because I had been stuck inside a windowless medical office for three hours this morning and had no clue as to what kind of conditions awaited me for my drive home. Suffice it to say I can drive in blinding snow that has also piled up in some places on the roads and melted into slush puddles in others. I also learned about a new safety feature on my van – when the tires start to slide and can’t get traction, a little “slippery when wet” light flashes on my dashboard, accompanied by a whimsical chime, as if the fact that I’m sliding all over the highway isn’t a clear enough sign that I have lost contact with the asphalt.

I did stop off for a few photographs at Lake Hefner, though, after I figured nobody else would be out there to muck up the freshly snow-covered ground with footprints, and I was right. You can see how quickly the snow was coming down and how fat the flakes actually were. Wet, heavy, fat flakes.  I wasn’t able to stand outside for too long and I’ll blame it on not wanting to ruin my new camera by getting it wet (even though we all know it’s because I’m a sissy when it comes to being cold).

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Winter’s Preamble

After enjoying roughly two weeks of warm weather and sunshine-filled weekends (for the most part), a cold front is sweeping in. Yesterday brought the wind. Today brings the rain. Tonight brings freezing cold air. Rumor has it that this is the beginning of the end (oh, don’t you just love my winter-hate dramatics?).

My birdhouse tree is nearly naked, thanks to Oklahoma’s infamous winds, but beneath it is a blanket of golden leaves. Sure, it’s pretty, but I can’t help but think the tree is shivering when the wind blows as opposed to it just bending with the blowing gusts, like its natural structure intended. It still makes me want to give it a warm and inviting hug, the poor thing.

I headed out to Lake Hefner yesterday morning before the worst of the wind picked up. It was overcast and breezy, no doubt, but I felt compelled to stay longer than I had planned simply because the sun kept peeking out of the clouds. It seemed every time I turned around to head back to the car, the depressing shade of gray turned itself over to the sun for a few seconds. The clouds lightened up, the water became bluer.

I enjoyed it while I still had the chance.

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Lake Hefner

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sunflowers

sunshine!

a peek of sunshine

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There is talk of this winter in Oklahoma being one of the worst. To be honest with you, I cannot tell if this is optimism or a forewarning. I guess it depends on who you ask, on who needs most what only Mother Nature can provide. I know the trees would like to hibernate (so would I!) and I’m convinced that Oklahomans are a self-sufficient bunch, so I’m not too worried about my own welfare.

I would also be lying if I said I wasn’t looking forward to the first snow. Having spent much of my childhood in Upper Michigan and my teenage years in the icestorm-stricken mid-Atlantic region, I can say I’ve had my fill of nasty weather. My daughter is another story. Not once has she seen a snowflake fall from the sky or hurled herself into a snowpile deep enough to bury her to her knees. Elle is so excited for winter! I’m hoping her enthusiasm will rub off on me (and I promise to wake her in the middle of the night, if we have such unfortunate timing, so she can watch her first snowfall).

Lakeside Walk

Last night, after discussing my upcoming drive to Florida and how the accompanying anxiety has made me kind of loopy and only able to cook pasta for dinner again, Matt and I decided to go out to eat.  We headed out to Hefner Grill, a lakeside restaurant we had been to once before when Elle and I visited for the first time in November. It was cold then and windy and dark outside before 6pm so I didn’t get to see the eastern side of Lake Hefner. We had plenty of time last night, though, and the weather was warm and inviting. It was a perfect opportunity to take a nice walk.

We walked just for a little bit and Matt reminded me that if I just imagined it without land, the lake could look like an ocean. There is even a quaint little lighthouse. And, yes, it is actually a working lighthouse.

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my two favorite people

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