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By the time both my readers find this the Fourth of July and my 50th high school reunion will have passed. Therefore I’ll have to assume that you know how last week went for you but I have no idea how either event will affect what happens to me.

So with that out of the way let’s get on to something else, like something called lake mode. I don’t get to town very often during the summer so most mornings I get up around 6 a.m., make a cup of coffee, head onto our front deck and stare off into the wilds of Lake Tschida.

Mornings at the lake are incredibly quiet, and since we have this unwritten neighborhood rule that says “No mowing until 9 a.m.” I have been known to sit there all by myself until the coffee pot is empty. During those blissful moments one can’t help but notice that this summer has been much greener than the past few. The grass is not only deep green, but when uncut it’s about waist high — and my waist is much farther off the ground than most folks’.

It doesn’t take long to notice the cacophony of birds chattering with each other. When one listens it appears that the birds really are talking to each other. Of course I have no idea what they’re saying to each other but I have noticed that most chortles, whistles, peeps, coos, caws and shrills seem to be responded to by another bird. Anyway, if you listen closely you’ll become enveloped by a cloud of bird calls.

Occasionally there’s a break in the bird action and quiet once again takes over … for a moment. It’s interesting to note that water really does carry sound. For instance the Farmers Union camp is about a mile across the lake from us. This time of year the camp is full of kids and we can tell whenever they’re outside by their laughter and hooting and such. However, most days the silence is broken by one or more of my neighbors.

Most of the occupants in our bay are retired or get to spend a lot of time at the lake so you not only get to know them but the sounds they make. For instance, I can tell Skip’s four-wheeler from Jim’s, Ron’s Bobcat from Vando’s, Emily’s golf cart from Dale’s, Dennis’ side-by-side from Walt’s, Skip’s leaf blower from Jim’s, Steve’s mower from Nick’s or Shirley’s or Larry’s or Tom’s — it’s probably safe to say that I have become one with my neighborhood.

Normally I end up spending a lot of time helping my son the carpenter out here, but we’ve been on a three-week wait for materials and plan on going back to work after the 4th. Therefore I’ve not only gotten more time off but been able to catch up on all the normal maintenance stuff that usually occupies my downtime. So as you can tell I’ve been catching up on doing nothing all day and not being done by bedtime.

Don’t kid yourself — it takes focus to spend your first few hours of the day convincing yourself that you don’t have to do anything. Yes, thoughts of tasks will come by, some worth tackling, but if you can let these thoughts pass then you can just stay where you are — in my case our front deck, waiting to see what the day brings from there. It took a while but I think I have this down and it looks like I might be able to survive.

Here’s hoping your independence is filled with peace.

Dan Ulmer is a parent, grandparent, as well as a retired teacher, counselor, politician, lobbyist, public employee, nonprofit executive and opinionated citizen who believes that we need to do what we can to leave the world better off than we found it.

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