Memoir/Personal Essay

Mornings at Lake Reba

Dancing Spirits

It is a daily ritual, one concocted by me to help my special needs son relieve stress. He wakes up at the ungodly hour of 4:00 am and is often bored and restless by 6:30 – the time we now leave for the park. Each morning, except for when it rains, we walk the same exact route so as not to add stress to his already overworked sensory system. As we walk down the shadowy trail we see the sun begin to stretch its tentacles above the trees in an attempt to free itself from the solid earth below. The moon, sometimes drunk on coffee, will decide to stay planted in the sky no longer afraid of being outshone. 

“Mommy, look,” my son will say, head moving back and forth in amazement, “the sun and the moon are out.” 

We have discussed their alternating schedule, how the moon will go to sleep when the sun wakes up, but sometimes things happen differently and to my son, this difference is okay. 

We walk by the playground first where the ghosts of children are still playing on the red bucket swings. They sway and the breeze whispers, “Can you see them? Can you see what I see?” and I do. 

We continue around the curve following the tarry path towards the lake, thin golden rays splaying across the dark-painted wood fence, and we see the sun stretching, just a sliver above the trees. The spirits dance across the cool water, playing while they can, knowing the sun will soon warm them into nonexistence. 

The geese laugh at us as we continue to walk. My son screams at them, “laugh again, laugh again,” and they do. Sometimes we bring them treats and sit a while giving them nourishment as they in turn nourish us. 

We are moving closer towards the next curve that leads to the big hill, the one my son always says he cannot conquer, and yet stands at the top waiting for me, cheering me on. I pause and take a moment to consider walking across the golden path the sun has left across the water, wondering if it is as solid as it looks. But I am lured away by my son’s screams and turn the corner and see the wide golden path shrink into a single ray of light that will soon become a distant memory. 

“Maybe next time,” I think. 

We are coming along the last curve towards the parking lot; the ghosts have all disappeared, overcome by the glaring brightness of the sun. There is a small spot where the path has been broken and my son must walk across this brokenness every day as he heads towards home. 

I drop him off at pre-school, follow his exact regimen: the bathroom, washing hands, his standing by the window, me waving at him before getting in the car, backing out, waving at him again until I and the car are just a distant memory.

*This personal essay is in response to an assignment in my MFA class to write an essay on the mundane.


12 thoughts on “Mornings at Lake Reba”

  1. “The moon, sometimes drunk on coffee, will decide to stay planted in the sky no longer afraid of being outshone.”

    A truly great line, nice memoir

  2. This is beautifully written. I like the pared back emotions. The story packs a highly charged emotional punch as a result. The bit about walking across the golden light on the lake is lovely.

  3. I love this story–funny how magical the mundane can be to others, when to us, the mundane may seem terdious and boring. In the eyes of others, our lives are fascinating!

  4. So beautiful. It comes from the depths of your heart and is written with love…is there anything better than that? I don’t think so. You know, this was the first thing I read this morning…what a wonderful way to start the day.


  5. Wow, Sarah. This is anything but mundane. You express the beauty and simplicity of a morning walk in a way that makes me want to crawl out of bed at 4am to enjoy the same sensory details you and your little boy experienced! Very lyrical.

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