I think the first place I fell in love with was Hyde Lake in the Thousand Island region of New York. My grand parents had a cottage (trailer with an enclosed porch) there when I was young. It was a small lake in the country. A campground sat at the north end and the rest was dotted with cottages. Almost directly across the lake from them was a cliff 20 or 30 feet high with a rock ledge that stuck out that you could jump or dive off. The cottage was on the west side of the lake and the sun would rise over the trees on the cliff. Some mornings the lake was so calm it looked like mirror and would reflect the image of the cliffs and trees. So beautiful.
We would catch fish off the end of the dock, go swimming, catch frogs and crawfish for hours. Grandpa would bait my sister’s hook with a worm he had jus bit in half. We would go for a boat ride and wave to the other people on the lake. They would ride by slowly pointing and staring at Grandma and Grandpa’s cottage with a tree growing out of it. We would go to the farmer’s stand and buy 18-24 ears of corn for 7 of us. Everywhere we went there were people calling out, “Hi Dot and Tony!” My Grandma would talk to the animals and put peanuts between her toes and the chipmunks would come take them. Grandpa would filet our perch and small mouth bass and cook them in the campfire.
It was so quiet and peaceful, away the busyness of the city. Everything seemed to slow down. I know it was vacation but it seemed like you had all the time in the world. You saw so much of nature. The air was fresh and clean and the stairs were so bright. Life was stripped down; sleeping, eating, playing, spending time with people you love and that love you. It felt like a safe place to be yourself. I didn’t think about being close to God there. I wasn’t really in tune with that as a child. But I’m sure now, that was a part of it. It helps us to hear God’s voice and realize the beauty of the world around us.
Maybe that was the reason it felt so special. Today when I see beauty in nature, I think of our Creator. There are so many different ways to experience God; a bird’s song, a sunset, the stars, rolling hills or the vastness of the sea. Sometimes I just stare out, in awe and wonder, at nothing in particular. How did this all come to be? What an awesome, powerful and loving Father we have to have given us this world.
I started out writing about God and nature and it turned into reminiscing. So many places over the years have been “God’s country” to me; camping different places and things we’ve seen in our travels. The top three are Hyde lake, Camp Koinonia and our current home in Livingston County. I always turn to praising and thanking God for creating these beautiful places and allowing me to experience them again and again.