I don’t think anyone can understand entirely who I am without knowing Rangeley.  When I bring a person there- even if they know me deeply- it feels like I’m showing them a part of myself that can’t be explained apart from experiencing first hand its particular beauties.  As such, I find it hard to begin to describe something that I feel is so profoundly a part of who I am.  To describe Rangeley is to describe myself and all of the things I hold dear.  To help myself, I’ll break it into pieces.

The lake. The air. The mountains. Meme. Gaga. Camp

The lake.  Learning how to hook my own worm and cast it into the lake.  The patience of sitting and waiting for a bite. Learning to appreciate the moments of stillness. Gratitude for being in the moment.  The pure excitement and joy of reeling in a perch after two hours of trolling around “School Mom’s Rock” casting and pulling up nothing else but sand and other detritus that lies at the bottom of the lake. Knowing there is exactly two minutes between the time The Island disappears behind a sheet of down-pouring rain and when those sheets of downpour will reach us.  Sprinting up the hill.  Sprinting down the hill.  The shock and chill that electrifies when first leaping into the icy waters.  Learning to swim.  Searching for golf balls and other treasures underwater until lips and fingers are blue.  Then eating a whole container of cheese balls while warming up on the shore.  They say 78% of the human body is water and I’d like to think most of mine comes from Rangeley Lake.  That water runs through me.

The air.  It widens my eyes and makes my heart beat faster upon first breath.  It washes into me and over me and through me like an invigorating elixir prompting me to live with fullness.  I think this is why I always eat and sleep twice as much when I’m in Rangeley.  It allows me to climb with more intensity and focus while scaling the steeps of Saddleback Mountain.  It allows me to swim with more vigor and determination when trying to swim or kayak across the lake.  And back.  It allows me to speak more freely and laugh more loudly and relax more deeply.  It’s the soft, cool breeze kissing my face on a hot summer day.  Its mysterious qualities wash away dishonesty and prompt me to live as myself, putting as much of myself into everything I do.  It’s spontaneity and vivaciousness.  It’s sharing stories and memories and laughing at everything.  It’s sleeping better than I ever have in my whole life.  This air is my personhood.

The mountains.  The mountains are humbling.  Their grace and beauty exists without artifice.  They’re magnificent and powerful just by being.  As a child, It takes several hours and handful after handful of peanuts and raisins just to reach a single peak.  They inspire a sense of adventure and a sense of wonder.  A desire to explore couples with an immense respect for their incredible power and danger.  Their hidden lakes.  Their steeps. The damp smell of the mountain stream that runs along the trail sweetened by the beautiful scent of the pine and balsam fir trees that grow, courageously and heartily, through the spines and valleys and ridges.  The hard work of reaching the top. The immense satisfaction of doing so.  Reaping the reward of the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich of my life and a view that takes away whatever breath I have left after the seven false peaks.  Determination.  A love for nature.  Respect.  Humbleness.  These rocks, dirt, and cliffs are my bones.

Meme.  Meme is picking fresh raspberries and turning them into pie.  Meme is having a sandwich already made by the time you get into the kitchen after three hours of running around and swimming.  Meme is reminiscing.  Meme is telling stories that might or might not be true.  Meme is exceptional generosity of spirit, sharing and showing love and kindness to all.  Meme laughs and loves equally without abandon.  Meme is sitting in the kitchen or on the porch drinking wine and not realizing that three hours have passed because the shared stories, laughs, and memories swap the time away and we stop not because we’ve run out of stories but because the sun has set and bugs are staring to bite. Meme is goofiness.  Meme lives boldly and beautifully. She loves, cares, and gives without expectation.  Meme is strength.  Meme is unending goodness.  Meme is my heart.

Ann and Merle Lounsbury

Gaga.  Gaga is always the quickest person in the room.  He’ll make five jokes before you’ve thought of a response to one.  He’s a builder. A creator. He built the table on top of which we’ve enjoyed years of picnics and barbecues and family reunions.  He built the Adirondack chairs in which we’ve shared stories, and glasses of wine, and hundreds and hundreds of laughs.  He would never boast.  He would never brag.  Gaga is great, but humble.  Gaga is strong, but gentle.  Gaga loves deeply.  Gaga will have done more by 7am than I’ll do in a full day.  His morals are unwavering.  He’s honest and so purely good.  Gaga is as tough and sturdy as the wood that he is so dexterous at crafting.  Gaga is unshakeable.  Gaga is my character.

Camp.  Camp is my favorite place to be.  We spend countless days rolling down hills, sprinting up mountains, playing games, kayaking across the lake, laughing, talking, eating too much pizza at the Red Onion, taking walks that seem to last forever, driving around at night looking for moose, sitting by the lake in the sun, falling asleep by the lake in the sun, shoveling snow off the deck, racing down Grey Ghost and always seeming to lose, warming toes in the warming hut, drinking hot cocoa, smelling balsam and lupine, listening to the loons sing, eating piles of red and green mints, jumping off the town dock, smiling, and being full of joy with my family.  With my family. Camp is family.  Camp is family.

The lake.  The air.  The mountains.  Meme.  Gaga.  Camp.

This is who I am.  I am so grateful.

Zac Lounsbury
in honor of Meme (Ann) and Gaga (Merle) Lounsbury


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