Pressed to choose, I’ll take living on the lake

“A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.” —William Wordsworth

I love living on a lake.

That would seem obvious for someone who has owned three lakeside homes over the years. So, if peaceful, serene and tranquil lake living beckons to me, then why am I currently living on a corner city lot where the only serene water is a patio fountain?

Wallace J. Nichols best describes the benefits associated with being near water in his book with the really long title, Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, and Better at What You Do.

“When we’re near water,” Nichols says, “Our brains switch into a different mode which can involve mind-wandering, creativity, and sleep, which are all known to be important to health, resilience, and productivity.”

While my brain of a different mode couldn’t have said it so eloquently, I just know that early morning pier sitting with a coffee cup in my hand is hypnotic. Lake life, like fish topping the water, frogs crooning, water fowl searching for breakfast, birds singing, water lapping against shorelines: it all melds in the early morning light to induce “take me away” therapeutic moments.

One such glimpse of lake life at Lake Murvaul in Panola County one morning became the beginning of a nature study of sorts. A nutria (water rodent best described as looking like a beaver with a ‘possum’s tail) passed my pier swimming his way north. Watching him for several mornings, his punctuality impressed me, although he was always going the same direction. Surely, I thought, he’s going back the other way later in the day.

My question was answered another afternoon by a small wake heading south, rippling the silky smooth sunset-hued water. Sure enough, it was him. It could have been a family member, but it makes a better story to assume it was the same critter.

Like clockwork, this routine continued for weeks. It became a ritual for me to look for him, morning and afternoon, wondering where he was going, and fascinating me that he made the same trip every day.

Storms on a lake fascinate me as well. Something about the water seems to energize a developing thunderstorm, bouncing menacing echoes of thunder off the lake’s surface. From my deck on the north side of Lake Murvaul, the view of clouds engulfing the lake with a curtain of rain was captivating. Mesmerized by nature’s display of a storm’s might, I would watch them and marvel at their power until the storm’s fury was right on top of the house.

Also mesmerizing are stunning sunrises and sunsets on the lake. Granted, they can be the most beautiful displays of nature anywhere on earth, but add a body of water as the backdrop and they can become breathtaking. Years of lake living resulted in a large library of gorgeous photos and an equally sizable store of memories watching them.

Wonderful memories from having lived in a variety of regions in Texas and appreciating the unique magic of each, I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite. However, pressed to make a choice, it would be one with a lake outside my back door.

Which brings me back to my original question as to why I’m not still living on the lake. Truth is, I still wonder about that and about where that nutria was going … as I sit and enjoy the sounds of my water fountain on the patio.

—Leon Aldridge

Aldridge columns are also published in the Center, Texas, Light and Champion ( and the Mount Pleasant, Texas, Tribune newspapers (

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