Monday, April 1, 2013

Charley's Treasures: Going off Autopilot

I call it running on autopilot and it is pretty much what I do all Winter. I’m aware and function but with a slight glazing over the eyes. But as time gets closer to the Spring and then the Summer, an awakening stirs inside me and I feel the senses that were in partial hibernation come back to life.  There coming back because they know the time is near. In fact, the time is here.  Time to blow the leaves off the mistreated skis and charge the batteries. Time to break out the cushions for the porch furniture and dust the life vests off that were stuffed in the closet under the staircase. The feeling is coming back to my fun factor and it feels good, no, it feels great!
  Work never ends and thank goodness for that. But even though I work in the Spring and Summer, even moreso than I do in the Winter, the excitement of what I can do before and after work far outweighs any dread of more stress and labor. I am ready for the sweet, wet relief of the water and everything else that can be done that couldn‘t be done in the Winter. And as the dullness of the bland Winter sky fades away, so does the glaze over my eyes as I switch off autopilot.
I’m ready now. I’m ready to put the ski in the water, press the throttle all the way allowing the wind to make my hair look stupid. I want to jump a fat pontoon boats wake and do donuts until I‘m dizzy. I want to hit the swing at 48 bridge, Wedowee creek and the hidden one near the dam and I want to jump off the rock and I want to do it right now. I want to camp on the peninsula again and throw some jugs out and then go look for them in the morning right after I see another awesome sunrise come up over Shiland Island. I want to look for new stashes of Geocache on the lake and I want to see the new  houses that were built in my absence. I want the heat of the air, the cool of the water and feel  the angry waves pound against the bow of my tattered ski as it gives less than it’s all before it dies, reliably, at which time I endure another “tow of shame” back to the dock where the undeserving ski goes home for another round of redneck surgery.
It is all that is me, and the one’s that roll with me and we wouldn’t have it any other way. It is the essence of Summer and there isn’t a redneck like me that would disagree that it is only the void between seasons that separates the “have alls” and the “have what we needs” because in the end we are all in the same melting pot of those that love the lake. We love it for the release, the separation from what is real and what is sane and it‘s the sanity that brings us back year after year.
  I do what I do to do what I love, not do what I do because I love it and that is the way that most of us are and there is nothing wrong with that. This place that’s hardly known  a hundred miles from here means everything to us and a part of me wishes it could stay that way but it won’t and it can’t because there are so many out there that need a little time in the Oasis and it’s only fair that we share a little sanity where sanity is needed. Let them feast on the unsavory bowl of numbers and deadlines but come here for desert. Here where a rebel yell isn’t a war cry but an expression of joy when the demons of Winter are expelled and it can be heard from the winding waterway of the Wedowee Creek to the bluffs on the Little River.
So to Al. Power, I say. “Tell your Dam people to close those gates and fill our lake back up!” And also, thanks for choosing us so long ago for this awesome lake.

Charley Norton is the co-owner of Norton’s Flooring with his brother Tom. The company was founded by his parents more than 35 years ago.
Illustration by Tom Scott.

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