The kids were yards ahead on their bikes, pausing to explore the tall grasses in the field and perch on the bank of the creek to see if they could spot any fish or signs of beaver. The air was cooling down from one of the first nice days we've had and like a scene from a sappy movie, the birds were busy chirping and fluttering about in the air above.
I breathed deep, took in a few lungs of fresh, clean evening air and was grateful for this place, the place I grew up in. The music kept getting louder...the notes of southern rock a la a Lynard Skynard cover band making the distance between me and wherever it was coming from.
We bought our first house 2 blocks from the elementary school I attended as a child and 3 blocks from the epicenter of our little downtown lakeside community, intentionally. When we outgrew our first home, we bought our 2nd home as close as we could to the first, intentionally. We live exactly 2 miles from my parents and my grandmother lives in the retirement community just up the street. All of the kids schools are within walking distance.
It became clear to me, as we neared the fire station - the point in our walk where the road splits and we either head home or keep going straight into downtown - that the music wasn't coming from a stereo. It was live music, echoing from the lakefront park.
All week, we'd been warned that there would be regatta (major rowing competition) activities snarling up or normally peaceful and laid back way of life. Good thing we don't even have a stoplight downtown because the temporary road closure was enough to get some local residents panties in a bunch, I can't imagine if it had been affecting an actual working traffic signal. So we drove the detour route, behind the old post office and back around to the boys and girls club, if we had to go that way. Some of us chose to forgo the detour all together and just drive around the lake the opposite direction to get our errands done...that would be me.
I love that we have these events in our town. We've hosted triathlons, dualthlons, car shows, rowing regattas and more. We are a lakeside city, perched under beautiful mountains and just far enough from the hustle and bustle to make you think you're really out in the boondocks, except you're not.
"Can we go listen to the music?" One of the children asked.
Silly kid, why even ask? I thought to myself. This is why we live here. This is why my husband (who is also a native to these parts - in fact, we've been crossing paths since our tricycle days) and I chose to raise our family here. This is why we came back. To live near the water, to hear the eagles sing every single day, to be away from the traffic and pollution and business of the larger cities.
We took the road straight ahead, following the music. The kids parked their bikes and the boys ran down to the dock while Katie, Brett, the dogs and I got comfortable atop the hill that slopes down to the waters edge, where a band was playing on the lakefront stage. The park was littered with portable tents from rowing clubs all over the place - their skulls parked in the street. A sparse beer garden was hosting a few athletes, but most had likely retired for the night, getting a good sleep before they pushed their bodies to the limit the next day in the waters of our lake.
Buoys dotted the surface of the water for as far as the eye could see and a large platform marked the end of the course - and the place where the announcer would conduct the race happenings in the morning. But right now it was all quiet...except for the band, who was finishing their last set with a jovial rendition of Sweet Home Alabama as the sky turned crimson behind them.
This is why we live here.
Home sweet home.