Working Weekend

This weekend found us both doing “homework” at Loyd Park, with Cliff developing a social media strategy and Jon writing an SOP for updating web content. An SOP, for the uninitiated, is a Standard Operating Procedure, a set of step-by-step instructions to help people carry out complex routine operations. SOPs aim to achieve efficiency, quality output and uniformity of performance, while also reducing any miscommunication or failure to comply with department or university regulations. SOPs are a necessary evil in today’s business environment. They are painful to both produce and to follow. They’ve been around since the 1950s, and they’ll likely be around for the rest of our working lives, so we have no choice but to comply.

An unexpected surprise came on Friday afternoon: a passing shower. Our area has experienced abnormally dry conditions throughout July and August, so even a passing shower is a welcome relief.

Friday night’s Date Night menu featured a grilled bone-in ribeye sliced over a mix of charred tomatoes, onions and poblano peppers. Chef Cliff then drizzled a Worcestershire butter over the top, and served along with baked potato, and grilled asparagus and shishito peppers. Our Date Night movie was the classic comedy “Monty Python and the Holy Grail.” We laughed ourselves to sleep.

Saturday’s supper was equally exquisite, with grilled boneless pork ribs, accompanied by grilled cauliflower with rémoulade and cob corn. As we were preparing our meal, the theme music from “On Golden Pond” started 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 on our “Golden Pond,” Joe Pool Lake. We simply had to watch it.

“On Golden Pond” 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 as 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 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 movie is like a picture postcard from another era. It’s beautifully filmed, and it 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 real star of the film is the lake itself. Every character has a relationship to it. And the lake has a way of bringing out the best in people, particularly the old couple who have invested so many summers at its shores and on its waves.

As we watched the movie, we talked about how often we’ve returned to our treasured lake, creating happy memories and deepening our own relationship with each other and with our surroundings. Hopefully, we’ll have more such nights ahead.

On Sunday morning, as we sat surrounded by our doggies amid the dense forest and chorus of birdsong, we again talked about “On Golden Pond.” It reminded us of where we are, and where we want to be. Jon said, “I wish we could just stay here forever.” Cliff said, “When the time comes, just spread my ashes at Site 35.”

We may travel far and wide to visit our beloved National Parks; we may have a bucket list that takes us from Acadia to Denali; but we pray that one day, like the Thayers, we’ll eventually become two old loons on the lake.