Like a Willie Nelson Song

I’m writing this to you from a hotel room, and in almost exactly ten minutes I am going to get in the car and drive the remaining six hours home.  Squam is fabulous, but cell and internet coverage are spotty, and so last night I talked with everyone at home, caught up, and realized that I am going to be hip deep in it when I get there. I know it’s all doable, I’m just going to have to keep things really planned, organized, calm and beautiful to keep everyone (mostly me) moving though it all without losing it. The drive here, I let go of Squam, worked through everything I’d learned and who I’d seen and what I thought, and last night I caught up with home, and today I’m going to use this time on the road to make a really great plan for how I’m going to accomplish everything that I am over the next two weeks, and still be a smiling gracious mother who doesn’t scream "are you freakin’ kidding me" while smashing her forehead repeatedly off of the left side of her steering wheel.

I slept forever last night, to bed early and up a little late – for me anyway, and that was a good step one. There’s something about Squam that leaves me feeling like I got hit by a truck. I don’t know if it’s how busy it is, or how much energy it is, or if it’s the five years that I took off my life with the decision to swim in Squam Lake yesterday morning, but I was so tired that I couldn’t even see straight.  (The swimming in the lake thing? I swim in Squam Lake every year. Our little cabin of Canadians always does, and this year, since I ended up representing solely, I was determined. As a general rule, I don’t mind swimming in cold water. I sort of feel like the only time that I might object to the temperature is if I had fallen through the ice. I was wrong. I don’t know what made me think that it would be a good idea to swim in the lake after such a late spring, but I think I just about gave myself a heart attack. It wasn’t the kind of cold where you get in and you can’t believe it but after a minute or two you get used to the idea. This was so cold that after about two minutes in there I couldn’t feel my thighs. I talked Amanda (she was my room-mate this year) into going in with me, and she was such a good sport, but after a few minutes – trying to be really cheerful and pretend everything was okay, she sort of said "This really kinda hurts, doesn’t it?" and I called the game. We got out, and we’ll see if she ever forgives me.) 

I had a wonderful Squam, but I’m getting on the road, and turning my car and head for home. I’ll have it all figured when I get there.  Here’s a few last looks at Squam. 

Amanda on the dock. Note the sweater. Why did we go in?

Knitting teachers, spotted resting in the wild. (Franklin and John) Careful not to startle them.

A little spot I claimed for writing in our cabin.

Amanda and I enjoyed a really cozy evening in our cabin, happily knitting our own handspun bu the fire while enjoying a really decent bottle of wine. We both took versions of this picture and then realized that this is exactly how rumours get started.
(As an aside, it turns out that if you put two bloggers together at the same event, and they mostly go places together, at the end of the day they will have pretty much the same roll of pictures.)

The gallery.

Anne and Erica. And yarn. Which I got.

Happy knitters that I was happy to see.

Let’s not even try to explain Stephen West.


Ice Lanterns.

It was great. I can’t wait to go back.

PS. A big shout-out to Casey and Jess for finding Amanda and I when we were lost in the woods.  All those trees look the same. 

94 thoughts on “Like a Willie Nelson Song

  1. Dear Stephanie,
    Here is my train of thought after reading your post. There were ICE CANDLES lit during your trip to Squam. Ice candles in June? It must have been cold enough for the candles to remain ice cubes. Seems to me that swimming in a lake when ice candles can be lit without them melting into puddles within minutes is kinda crazy. Just saying.

  2. I’m guessing there should have been a hint about going in the lake when there were ice lanterns.

  3. NOW I know why when we North Carolinians go to the beach in April or May we see people frolicing in the ocean. It is much to cold for us until June or July. For Canadians it is perfectly acceptable. I guess we southerners are softies! Glad you had a good time. The view from your cabin was lovely and wine & knitting in front of the fire and the end of a fun day looks great. This southern knitter is very envious.

  4. I want to thank you for sharing your stories with us here on the blog, they are always illuminating and entertaining. And, thank you for being you, and for so graciously tolerating groupies.
    You were so kind to sign my friend Sarah’s book and gift her with that great birthday surprise.
    I know the day was long, and you were doing your own shopping at the Art Fair. It WAS late and we WERE lurking, but you were so kind. I have been sharing the “I see you” retort, spoken like a first grade teacher to unruly students in queue.
    We so enjoyed getting that close to a national treasure. And again, thank you for being so tolerant of us silly minions.

  5. Born and raised in Oregon. Cold water, like NW Pacific Ocean water, is not really meant to be swum in. Sadly you had to experience it at Squam. Really, really bone chilling. Learned that in my 9th year of life. Reviewed it in my 12th year and decided not to review that kind of cold again. I like wooley warmth much better–which is good since we wear woolen things all year ’round, even if it is just to warm up with a shawl first thing in the morning. Maybe it will be warm in August. One can hope.

  6. How lucky that you and Amanda got to be roomies. She is brave to follow you lead into the lake.
    She is also a treasure, I love her blog and her Taproot magazine. It is refreshing to know that she leads the way for those who cherish some of the old ways and she is teaching it to her children, and us through her blog.
    I am leaving a second comment because my trackback linky was wrong.

  7. Lovely pics, but I have to agree with the others: Shouldn’t the ice lanterns have been a clue that the water might have been a wee bit chilly?

  8. I LOVE THOSE BUTTONS. Wow! the colors are great, like you could eat them. I want to go to Squam one day (or weekend, no driving thankyou!)

  9. My mum and I went swimming in the St. Lawrence river one “summer” at the end of June. I know just how you felt. It had to be done, but we both got out of the water about three minutes later feeling like arthritic old ladies.

  10. Be of good cheer. The swim will have added five years — not that your track record for how old you are is much to brag about — added, I say, five years, if the research into cryogenics is to be credited. The bike rides probably saved your clenched little fist of a heart, though.

  11. It’s been such a cold spring, no wonder the lake was freezing! On the positive side, it was a great opportunity to wear wool, right? I so look forward to your photos of events like these that I can never get to. Just love the ice lanterns.

  12. I’m with everyone else who will point out that if the weather is cold enough for ice lanterns, the weather is too cold for swimming.
    Of course, the ice lanterns were posted after the swimming mention. Perhaps someone got the idea for ice lanterns after they saw you and Amanda emerge from the lake and decide to warm yourselves from the inside out with that wine?

  13. I hope you two got to have warm dry clothes in between the swim and the lost. Looks like a wonderful time there (no no you can have the cold water thanks go ahead no no not me too it’s okay), wish I could have gone!

  14. I agree with Ardi:
    Ice lanterns = no swimming
    And Judy:
    Soft Southerners don’t go in until the weather warms up. I don’t think the water temperatures here in the Chesapeake Bay (and it is shallow at 12 feet avg.) are much above mid-60’s (even if it is June)!

  15. On the other hand, to be honest, I have waded in to the waters off Cape Hatteras with a down jacket (and jeans…but barefoot) on to surf fish for bluefish.
    But somehow, that is different, isn’t it???

  16. I just checked out Amanda’s blog and a few posts down there is a proof that jumping in the lake was her idea. It’s all about plausible deniability my friend.

  17. They call it polar bear swimming for a reason…it’s only enjoyable if you’re naturally insulated; i.e. polar bear-shaped.

  18. Swimming in Squam Lake, huh? People have been committed to care facilities for less.
    I’ve gone in the water at the northern end of Lake Michigan and my aunt’s cabin in the middle of nowhere Maine. Memorable experiences, but not necessarily enjoyable.
    Glad to know you lived to tell us about it!!

  19. it was mid 90’s a week ago near Squam – – Spring in New England – wildly changing temps and then hot and steamy….the water sometimes does not get an acceptable temp for swimming till mid to late July. We cool our waters with big hunks of ICE!
    Sharon (who summers down the road from SQUAM)

  20. That looks so wonderful.. I probably would’ve had to jump in the lake too. I’ve never been able to resist a dare >.<

  21. It looks wonderful – maybe one day, after the little ladies are fully grown, I’ll persuade the husband that Sqam is somewhere he definitely wants to explore!

  22. is it just me, or did everyone briefly think that Steph finally got her hair straight in that first photo? Never realized how much alike you and Amanda look. Or maybe you have spent too much time together this weekend? 🙂

  23. No, no, knitting mole, it’s not just you. I thought …. no, I was convinced that Steph had a new “do”, and then when I proceeded to read I couldn’t get over how mistaken I was. Love the pics. It’s supposed to be true that immersing yourself in cold water is good for you, especially if you need to knock off some pounds (which I don’t think the harlot needs to do. she’s just a yittle thing). I’ve been known to take an ice cold shower occasionally….oh, Lord, open mouth insert foot. Get your minds out of the freapin’ gush bucket, I’m over 65 already.

  24. Okay, I tried blog/rav stalking Amanda, but I cannot find that sweater. Did she make it or did she buy it?
    Also, those pictures really make me miss home. I moved to Canada three years ago and I love it, but Alberta is nothing like Washington.

  25. I think I may be swooning a little from all those famous fiber artists in one place. Are you sure you aren’t paparazzi? And Stephen West is amazing and silly and SO MUCH FUN!! Squam is on my bucket list. It will happen one day.

  26. Ice lanterns that aren’t melting into a puddle are probably a good indication of how cold the lake is! At our cottage in Haliburton, the dog is the only one who’s been in for a dip. And even she didn’t stay in very long. Oh, I need some of those buttons. Do they come in yellow? I’m going to go click the link now.

  27. Hi. I think Canada wins if Stephanie actually swam in the lake. I was there. It wasn’t warm enough to swim *and* we had just had tons of rain, but being a Canadian means you are tough!
    Stephanie, not to get caught in an eternal gratitude loop, but thanks from my depth for the beautiful stitch markers from Amy in Grand Michigan and your gorgeous green and grey sock weight. I’m going to make it into a Knitspot sock pattern that was in my Rav Revelry bag. I hope your bike ride goes well. I myself am getting off my tukus to ride for Cancer research moneies for The Prouty in July.
    I loved meeting Casey and Jess and seeing all the knitterly things and people at Squam.

  28. The local news cautioned us to be sure of the lake temp before going swimming. Yes, it was June 9.

  29. i sense a theme.
    ice candles that remain ice are the indicator that swimming is not a good idea.

  30. Your photos are amazing. My BF (a desert guy) always wonders why I want to live in the Pacific NW or New England as he thinks it’s too cold and wet. The photo of the wine glasses says it all. A glass of wine (or tea, depending on time of day), a fire, a cat and/or dog, a comfy chair and my knitting – that is true bliss!! Squam has been added to places I must go someday – thanks for sharing it with us…

  31. I guess you couldn’t bear to use any of the available yarn to mark your way back through the woods?

  32. And the ice lanterns didn’t suggest to you swimming wasn’t such a good idea? 🙂

  33. Summer has left our part of the Northeast…again! It is raining….again and only about 50 degrees! We had a tropical storm last week and it was just over 40 degrees! We are going in reverse!!
    …and you swam…in THAT water…really? And…ice lanterns were not a clue in?

  34. You can shout “are you freakin’ kidding me?” all you want or need. Please do not hit your head against the steering wheel, especially when the car is in motion.

  35. HAHAHAHAHAH! Thanks Stephanie, I needed a good laugh – You decide to go swimming where they have ice candles, unmelted, outside? Hahahahaha! I’m glad you both survived 🙂

  36. Now that I’m home from Squam, I’m totally blaming you for my newfound desire to do more colorwork knitting (I’ve lost track of how much time I’ve spent looking at patterns on Ravelry since I got home). And I’ll indulge that desire just as soon as my hand and wrist stop aching. I really should invest time and effort in practicing that lever knitting business and use it more often. Yeah. This whole Squam thing was amazing and awesome and I hope I get to do it again in the future.

  37. I am standing firm in defense of the swimming. Sometimes there are things that must be done, and to not do The Thing might be worse than frostbite. Like (intentionally and while sober) diving headfirst into one of those deep, painfully cold lakes in Austria in September because your grandfather was Austrian and staying in long enough for your travel companion to take your picture for your half-Austrian dad, even though the water is so cold it gave you a nosebleed on contact. Tradition is another Thing that perhaps should be adhered to at almost any cost.

  38. There goes another myth about Canadians. I guess you aren’t born with the innate ability to navigate a forest.
    Glad you had fun! One of my friends who went (and enjoyed spending time with you at meals as well as in your class) is encouraging me to try to go next year. We’ll see!

  39. “roll of pictures” – LOL – dating yourself!
    Why did you go in the water? Tradition or habit? Not Franklin.

  40. Have a relaxing but safe journey home, concentrating on the road and not the prospect of being a super-gracious and smiling mum when you get home! (Can you tell I’m an anxious granny?!)
    Loved the pictures of Squam, and yes, I’d have swum too, on the basis of if I can swim in the icy waters of the western Algarve when all the locals are putting their toes in and screaming, I can swim anywhere!
    Great to see you with Amanda, another blogger that I read several times a week, especially when I need reassurance that this world is essentially a good place.

  41. Ahhhh…That hit the spot. Thank you. Wow! Ice lanterns. I’m so copying that. Beautiful!!!

  42. Stephen West is ‘adorkable’, and helloooo awesome buttons, hi there, nice to meet you!

  43. I’m going to Canada next year, and I hope to also go to Squam, and Madrona, and Rhinebeck, and knit city, and the Toronto TTC knitalong – all the fibery goodness this Australian can only read about jealously – until next year! I am so excited. I’ve been reading your blog for a few years now, and soon I will get to see all the yarn, and go to all the places. 😀

  44. I won’t be swimming in ice lakes though. especially if there are ice lanterns around.

  45. I understand the draw of good company, but I’m thinkin’ going into the woods with Amanda was not your smartest move. Didn’t she get lost in the woods last year?

  46. I grew up in Arizona. Ice Lanterns?!? Inconceivable!!! But that’s why Christmas decorations in the desert include candles, a yard of sand and a pile of brown paper bags…

  47. Out of curiosity, do they ever have these “Squam” type events in California? Appears these are held on the east coast. Besides, the weather out here is provides for more pleasurable water wading.

  48. aww, thank you for the nice mention and the CUTE photo! it was so great to see you; why don’t we do that more often??

  49. Every time I think I’m over my head with my to do list and I’m must going to totally freak out and start crying in the corner I think “what would Stephanie say” and then I repeat your nice little mantra… “I know it’s all doable, I’m just going to have to keep things really planned, organized, calm and beautiful” and it all works out because, yeah, that’s how you do it.

  50. “It looks wonderful – maybe one day, after the little ladies are fully grown, I’ll persuade the husband that Sqam is somewhere he definitely wants to explore!”
    Carie – I just checked with the husband. Before my time he went on a fishing trip to Big Squam Lake. Caught 8lb+ bass. If your husband fishes, you may be able to get there sooner.

  51. Ah, yes, how very Canadian. Describing by careful degrees how TRULY cold the lake was … and yet we were in it because summer is short and if you don’t swim now you won’t swim at all…. Good times.

  52. Internet is written with the capital letter in a sentence, by the way. And hundredths are written not with a point but with a comma. This is according to the standard. And actually everything is very good..!

  53. Funny, when I saw the first picture of a nicely sweatered girl sitting on the pier with a glass and a smile, I thought, wow, that polar bear swim that Harlot’s talking about was worth it! Some youth elixir! and it grows your hair long overnight.
    Then I adjusted my readers and saw it’s someone named Amanda. Not Stephanie. And I already had my plans for my own bone-numbing swim in Squam.

  54. I’ve been reading around on a few blogs about Squam and it looks like a lot of fun. I might just have to go next year…

  55. Swimming?- Its not too cold to swim as long as you can still breathe. Once the cold paralyzes your lungs-Thats too cold. Did that in the pacific ocean- even colder than San Francisco bay or Turquoise Lake Colorado. On the other hand a cold swim gives the perfect excuse for brandy a fire and something warm and fibery- alpaca is nice.

  56. That cold water thing? That’s how you know you’re not a kid any more. Been there, done that.

  57. Thanks for sharing Squam with the rest of us who haven’t been there yet. It looks and sounds amazing (LOVE your writing spot), except for the ice-cold water… Reminds me of Lake Tahoe; just putting my big toe in can bring on the chills.

  58. Familiar with that heart clenching breath stopping cold…lots of cold water in Northern California mountains like Lake Tahoe and the McCloud River. When you can’t feel your legs anymore that’s when it’s time to get out 🙂 Cheers for doing it even for just a few minutes.
    To be honest that actually sounds lovely as it was 106 degrees F this weekend in central California – no sweaters required!

  59. Great pics Stephanie! And thanks for the introduction to Amanda. Loving her blog. I need all the knitting blogs I can get. I read them at night when I am trying to slow down the brain and put myself in a happy place so I can sleep. 🙂

  60. Nice to have taken your class, getting the chance to meet you and then sitting with you at both dinner and breakfast . Hope to see you soon. Happy knitting.

  61. I love your writing and I’m so thankful that you opened my eyes for not denying that I’m a yarn junkie and unfinished project manager.

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