But I had forgotten just how incredible the blue of the water is. A few weeks ago I was listening to Radiolab, and the topic was color. They interviewed a linguist named Guy Deutscher, who told a very interesting story about the color blue. In the second half of the 19th century, William Gladstone (the British Prime Minister) noticed that in the Illiad, Homer uses several strange terms for color. Of course, the most famous one is the "wine-dark sea." But many of Homer's color descriptions are strange: wine-colored oxen, sheep with dark-violet wool, and both honey and "faces pale with fear" are described as green.
So Gladstone started counting the number of times Homer used each color in his description: black 170 times, white 100, red 13, yellow less than 10, green less than 10. And blue? Doesn't appear in the Illiad at all.
You'll have to listen to the podcast to find out the theories as to why this is, but my point is simply this: if Homer had lived in Lake Tahoe, the dude would have been all over the color blue.
It was incredible. I kept telling Miles, "imagine you had been one of the explorers who headed west looking for adventure and poor native peoples to conquer. After months of gruelling travel, you pushed on through the desert (where the airport is) and came up over the mountains and saw this? This blue?" (I also told him the story of the Donnor party, which Brian had never heard. I guess they don't teach that in New Jersey. Brian was a bit perturbed that I was telling Miles stories about cannibalistic pioneers, but it's the crown jewel of Sierra stories!)
The water is cold, but the kids didn't care. The first day was the chilliest, and even though we were at the lake with winter coats on, the kids pulled their shoes off and ran right in (and one of my nieces pulled her pants off too, but that's not unusual for her)(nieces gone wild!).
The rest of the week was warmer, and we went to the beach at Sand Harbor twice. So lovely there.
And thanks to my sister-in-law's parents, we also got to fit in some boat rides.
The trees made me happy.
We hauled all the kids up the tram at Squaw Valley so we could hike around, and we found a patch of snow for the kids to play in. Big hit with the kids from Texas.
As Brian said, normally at the end of vacation I am at least somewhat ready to get home again. Not this time.
by Rita Dove
I love the hour before takeoff,
that stretch of no time, no home
but the gray vinyl seats linked like
unfolding paper dolls. Soon we shall
be summoned to the gate, soon enough
there’ll be the clumsy procedure of row numbers
and perforated stubs—but for now
I can look at these ragtag nuclear families
with their cooing and bickering
or the heeled bachelorette trying
to ignore a baby’s wail and the baby’s
exhausted mother waiting to be called up early
while the athlete, one monstrous hand
asleep on his duffel bag, listens,
perched like a seal trained for the plunge.
Even the lone executive
who has wandered this far into summer
with his lasered itinerary, briefcase
knocking his knees—even he
has worked for the pleasure of bearing
no more than a scrap of himself
into this hall. He’ll dine out, she’ll sleep late,
they’ll let the sun burn them happy all morning
—a little hope, a little whimsy
before the loudspeaker blurts
and we leap up to become
Flight 828, now boarding at Gate 17.