One of my favorite films is “On Golden Pond,” which tells the story of an aging couple, Ethel and Norman Thayer, who spend each summer at their cabin on a lake called Golden Pond. Like most good stories, it’s about relationships. There’s the relationship between the Thayers, of course, and between each of them and their only daughter Chelsea, who comes to visit Norman on his 80th birthday, bringing along her new fiancé, Bill, and his young son Billy. The film explores the relationship that develops between Billy and Norman over the course of the summer, culminating in a reconciliation, of sorts, between Chelsea and Norman on Golden Pond.
The film is breathtakingly photographed, and has some of the finest performances from Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman, as well as a young Doug McKeon. But the unsung hero of the film is the lake itself. Every character has a relationship to it. And it has a way of bringing out the best in people, particularly the old couple who has invested so many summers at its shores and on its waves.
During our morning walk, I declared I was convinced that Joe Pool Lake and Cedar Hill State Park would be our own “Golden Pond,” a place we would return to again and again to create happy memories and to deepen our relationship with each other and with our environs. Yesterday’s sunset, for example, was absolutely spectacular…one of those rare events that actually makes you stop what you’re doing just to take it in. Last time we were here, we had a memorable Sunday morning rain that created a perfect accompaniment to our routine. This morning, as we observed a lone fisherman working one particular spot for hours on end, Cliff said, “Let’s just stay here.”
A bit impractical, I know. But like the Thayers, I suspect the Garinns will eventually become two old loons on the lake. I can’t think of a better companion than my own knight in shining armor. As Ethel told Norman, I’m going to be right behind him, holding on tight, and away we’re going to go, go, go.