Many of the federal holidays are more or less like ordinary days for us, the only difference being the post office will be closed, and the Y will be closed, so there is no need to go to town. Being self-employed, we can take off anytime we feel like it and do something. So the Labor Days of years gone by tend to run together as being rather unmemorable. Except recently.
In 2009, Nathaniel had the day off— as an unpaid holiday (which annoyed me a lot; where are you Mother Jones!!!)— and he and I decided to take a drive out to Noblett Lake, maybe 10 miles away early, before people started to arrive for picnics.
The lake was created back in the Depression era by a group of workers from the Civilian Conservation Corp. They threw up a small concrete dam across a creek and made a pavilion and a picnic area, and it has been a favorite spot for local people to picnic, camp, and fish, and have a good time.
We spent a nice morning there, walked the trail around the lake, enjoyed the peace and quiet of the place and its beauty.
We had no clue that the cancer that would eventually kill him had probably already started spreading its seeds of death throughout his body.
Last year, he had a “divine appointment” on Labor Day to visit Jason, a childhood friend who had moved to Arkansas to go to college shortly after high school and who he had not seen for maybe 15 years. My friend Naomi, Jason’s mom, invited Nathaniel to go with them on a trip down to Arkansas to a nice park where they got to hang out and visit. Although they visited frequently during the last months of Nathaniel’s life on the telephone, it was the last time they saw each other face-to-face.
So, when this Labor Day morning dawned -- a beautiful, crisp clear almost fall-like day, it occurred to me that we could drive out to Noblett Lake and walk on the trail and enjoy the quiet serenity there… and remember… and then I realized that nope, that isn’t going to work.
For a while, there was some doubt whether the Forest Service was going to rehabilitate it and close the gate and let it fill up again. Local outrage has, perhaps, changed its mind. I have firm faith in the resurrection of the body; perhaps the lake will be resurrected as well.