Lake Reflections: The Advent of Summer

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Summer is not just a measure of time here.

It’s a way of life.

Before we moved to Smith Mountain Lake, “summer” consisted of the short weeks between Memorial Day and Labor Day during which we would partake in occasional summertime-esque activities sprinkled haphazardly amidst work-a-day life.

We’d crack open a ripe watermelon when feeling particularly seasonal and eat it outside. One could easily squeak through June, July and August with a swimming wardrobe consisting of one well-fitting suit, and a second-string spare (that could be salvaged with a cover-up if need be). Our leisure activities took place in the early mornings, late nights or air conditioning. I always had a running countdown to fall ticking in my head.

But then my husband and I moved to the North Shore area of SML.

We quickly discovered that there are not delineated observances of winter, spring, summer and fall here. Instead, the vast whole of the lake abides by the duality of “warm weather/the season” and “cool weather/off season.” When we are in the latter, we hibernate. Shops and restaurants scale back their hours. Part-timers disappear. Pleasantries consist primarily of how many days are left until we
de-winterize our boats and whether or not Chick-fil-A will ever open a brick and mortar at Westlake. The holidays are a welcome, albeit fleeting, distraction from the fact that we are indeed, not out on the water.

But as “the season” nears, you start to feel a palpable vibration in the air. Opening dates for our favorite haunts are noted as our thoughts frequently drift to that first bite of chocolate BBQ we’ve been so cruelly deprived of for the past six months. We assess the condition of our swimming wardrobe (which now takes up three full drawers in our bureau). We lament our winter indulgences and our lightened skin. We stock up on SPF and sunglasses.

And then…it’s here! The first weekend to top out above 70 degrees and we are once-caged animals released into the wild!

With collective aplomb we dive headfirst from woolen cardigans into bare skin and sandals. Forget the fact that April has barely rubbed the sleep out of her eyes. JUST TRY AND STOP US! The welcome mats roll out, the grass umbrellas go up, live music fills the air, Piña coladas fill our cups, we acquire our first burn within 20 minutes of sun exposure, and all the Facebook groups turn to super-charged discussions of docking lights and wake boats.

Our schedules quickly fill with BBQs, bonfires and lakeside festivals. We find every excuse possible to WFB (work from boat) so we can keep our brand new tans topped up. The Beach Boys are the soundtrack of our days, and our mood—now glossed over with a fresh laissez-faire quality that will last until the first chill of autumn—has firmly flipped the switch to “the season.” We can all let down our hair and breathe in the luxuriant air of life on the water. What a time to be alive!

Summer has come.

Kristin Dunker


Kristin Dunker is editor of The Current, a bi-weekly e-magazine for Smith Mountain Lake and Southwestern Virginia. It highlights our community’s people, businesses, clubs and organizations and encourages readers to create a life they love. All this is packaged up in a gentle read designed to make you smile. Subscribe at

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