Rendezvous at Round Lake
Carved by an ancient glacier,
its meromictic waters do not mix—
this is the place we go
where layers of sediment stratify in ribbons.
Meromictic waters do not mix;
within my childhood home, chilled
layers of sediment remain stratified in ribbons,
blue-green fingers stretch across the surface.
When I am chilled inside my childhood home,
I call for my golden friend,
fingers stretch across the blue-green surface,
warmer than my own blood.
I call my friend of gold
to the place we go —
warmer than our blood,
we are carved ancient as a glacier.
*Published in Green Briar Review, Winter 2019.
We should all be so lucky as to have a friend who has known us for most of our lives — the holder of our secrets, the person who understands the way we move in the world. They know our families and our history. I am fortunate to have many friends from different points in my life, including many I have known for a relatively short period of time, but there is something elemental about a lifelong friend. I can still recall the expression we sang in rounds when we were young: “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold.”
I remember a scene in a Crocodile Dundee movie from the 1980s. Paul Hogan’s character, the Australian legend nicknamed Crocodile Dundee, shares his views with an American woman on seeing a shrink to discuss one’s problems; where he comes from, he says, “that’s what my mates are for.” While I’m certainly not advocating against therapy (I’ve been seeing a therapist for over twenty years), I count my old friendships as invaluable to my emotional well-being. No one understands what triggers me more than a childhood friend. I catalog my troubles in my mind to share on my next meet-up with my most trusted resource, the friendship of a lifetime.
A few times a year, I travel home to visit family and friends in Upstate, N.Y. A long time ago, a tradition developed between one of my dearest friends and me. We walk the path around Green and Round Lakes near where we grew up. There’s something about walking a wooded path alongside pristine water that makes words flow, especially when your companion requires no explanation of your ramblings and doesn’t judge your craziest thoughts. By the time our trek reaches the more secluded Round Lake, we are compelled to pause and look in unison at the still water and the trees reflected on its surface. I know I can speak for both of us when I say this is a moment of reverence — broken only when one of us decides we need yet another “selfie.”
Surrounded by old-growth forest, Green and Round Lakes are two of only a few lakes in the world deemed “meromictic,” meaning there is no seasonal mixing of the upper and lower water levels as with other lakes. These glacially-carved lakes are deep and stable: Green Lake is 195 feet deep and Round Lake is 180 feet deep. The unusual features of these lakes create an otherworldly aquamarine color to the water. Growing up in this area, I took this beauty for granted.
I know that there were also times that I took my friendships for granted. Many years ago, I received a card that said: “The only way to have a friend is to be one.” It’s worth it to hold these words close and to live by them. Our old friends will be with us long after our parents have gone — they are a rare treasure, deserving careful attention. It seems fitting that Round Lake, a rare place, is the scene of my rendezvous with my old friend.