I enjoy succumbing to the pull of a mountain lake. This morning, Monday, of Labor Day weekend, I sit on a porch overlooking the Great Sacandaga Lake, in upstate, New York. The air is cool and clear. The view of the blue water, changing to grey as the clouds float in front of the sun, is lovely. It is mid-morning and the boat motors sound like distant flies buzzing, as the crafts make their appearance on the lake.
Last night we celebrated the end of summer with the Ring of Fire. A celebration started around 1990 by locals who, after cleaning the brush from their properties, decided to build huge bonfires. The thought was to involve the community around the lake in camaraderie as neighbors were encouraged to join in and light the fires all at once. The Sunday evening of Labor Day weekend was chosen as bonfire night. The idea has blossomed and many families around the lake partake in this festival with cookouts and parties with friends and neighbors.
Sunday afternoon we took a tour of the lake by boat and checked out the many bonfires that were being assembled along the shoreline. We soon discovered the competition was tough. We headed back to the dock. Once there, our team made the obligatory snacks and cocktails to come up with our plan of action. The assorted debris and trimming were ready and waiting on the beach. The men of the group assembled our bonfire, with the help of the young generation, the ones who grew up with this tradition. Because we had seen the other bonfires, more debris was sought out and piled high onto our lake offering, which in the end allowed for much praise and feelings of a job well done from the assembly crew. Now, we only had to wait until nightfall.
As we cooked and ate our end of the summer feast, steak, squash, corn, tomatoes, dusk began to fall and we watched as one by one bonfires began to illuminate the lake, some were as far as five miles away. Then, fireworks began to display their colors. An almost full, fiery, orange moon rose over the mountains, as if on cue. A true celebration of summer and all of its glory was under way.
We quickly finished our feast and headed to the beach. The fire was lit and slowly came to a roaring inferno with sparks flying high into the night sky. The sight was beautiful and we celebrated with “”oooos and ahhhs,” our contribution to the festival. Cameras were brought forth and pictures were taken to commemorate the evening. We all knew however, pictures or not, we would not forget such a delightful night. Soon, quiet descended on us as we watched the leaping flames slowly drop from the night sky into a intensely hot mound of burning logs and hot coals. Chairs were assembled and we spent many hours sitting by our offering talking, laughing and enjoying each other’s company. This, I believe, was the original intent for the Ring of Fire.