Lake Life

IMG_0538We often spend two or three weekends a month “at the lake,” but the fact of the matter is that we spend very little time in or even near the water. Oh, we catch an occasional glimpse of the shore as we drive in or out of the park. We see a couple of ducks swimming in a tiny inlet as we walk the dogs. But our time is primarily spent amid the heavily wooded park.

Still, Joe Pool Lake is “our” lake. It’s the place we return to again and again as we seek to get away from it all. For the first two years of our camping life, we frequented Cedar Hill State Park, on the southern shore of Joe Pool Lake. We saw many fine sunsets over the water from that vantage point. But for the last two years, our favorite spot has been Loyd Park, on the northern end of the lake. Loyd Park offers more than 200 sites, many of which are in shaded alcoves, but without direct water views. All sites have water and electric hook-ups, along with paved pads and a concrete, covered patio with a picnic table and grill. Life is good here.

The lake itself was completed in 1985, and filled by June of 1989. It covers nearly 7,500 acres, and spans parts of Dallas and Grand Prairie.

The lake was named after Joe Pool, a congressman from Oak Cliff who served for five years in the 1960s. He was highly influential in passage of legislation and funding of the lake, so it’s only fitting that it should bear his name.

A freshwater lake, it’s operated by the Trinity River Authority for conservation, flood control, recreation, and municipal water supply. Recreation facilities include a number of parks, paved boat ramps and parking lots, public swimming areas, and a public marina. Loyd Park and Lynn Creek Park are on the lake’s northern edge, Estes Park is between the two arms of the lake, and Pleasant Valley Park and Cedar Hill State Park are on its southern side. Because it’s stocked with bass and catfish, many local anglers are drawn to its shores and waters.

We wanted to introduce you to “our lake” because we’ve had so many memories there and plan to create many more. On Saturday, Cliff read a passage from our blog about our life at the lake, and we both grew quite emotional.

You see, one of our 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. We suspect a movie about an old couple wouldn’t find much of an audience at theaters today as it did when it was released in 1981. No thrilling car chases. No raucous explosions. No murders or mayhem. Rather, it’s a film about relationships.

There’s the relationship between the Thayers, of course, and between each of them and their only daughter Chelsea, who came to visit Norman on his 80th birthday, and brought along her new fiancé, Bill, and his young son, Billy. The film explored the relationship that developed between Billy and Norman over the course of the summer, culminating in a reconciliation, of sorts, between Chelsea and Norman on Golden Pond.

The movie was like a picture postcard — beautifully filmed — and it had some of the finest performances from Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda and Dabney Coleman, as well as a young Doug McKeon. But the real star of the film was the lake itself. Every character had a relationship to it. And it had a way of bringing out the best in people, particularly the old couple who had invested so many summers at its shores and on its waves.

As we sat having dinner on Saturday, the theme to On Golden Pond began playing in the background. We caught sight of each other and, for a brief moment, we were connected by memory and emotion to all the times we’d shared in our own little lake house. Joe Pool Lake is our treasured “Golden Pond,” and regardless of whether we’re staying at Loyd Park or Cedar Hill State Park, we find ourselves returning again and again to create happy memories and to deepen our relationship with each other and with our environs.

We’ll undoubtedly have more such nights ahead. But as morning turned to afternoon, we couldn’t bear to leave. Surrounded by our doggies amid the dense forest and chorus of birdsong, we had to stay just one day more.

And so we did. A phone call and a visit to the office extended our stay another week.

We suspect that, like the Thayers, we’ll eventually become two old loons on the lake.