Love Letter to the Lake

by on Jul 15, 2012 | 2 comments

Recently, on July 4 in a Lake Geneva city park, my wife and I were asked to read  ”love letters to the lake” that people had submitted in response to a request from the conservancy group in our area. My oldest daughter,  Jacey, wrote one which I want to share with you. She grew up here, went to college “out East” at NYU, and is now pursuing her musical theatre career. It was fascinating for us, as her parents, to read her reflection on this particular place we call home and what it meant — and still means — to her. Hope you enjoy it.


Dear Lake Geneva,

I don’t water ski.  I don’t fish.  I’m not a great boats-woman, in fact, I’m not even sure if a boatswoman is a thing.  I don’t really like to swim very much—I remember taking lessons as a kid: being forced into your icy waters and coming out complaining of rocks and too much seaweed.  I’m not saying I hated you or anything, I’m just saying at the very most I thought you were totally fine: a completely acceptable lake, but nothing particularly special.

I never planned on staying in Lake Geneva forever.   I grew up with plenty of people who planned on going away for a while, but ultimately coming back here to settle down.  I knew that when I left for New York after high school that I wasn’t coming back to stay again, and that the committed relationship we had for 18 years was going to be down-shifted into a more casual, “I think I want to see other bodies of water kind of thing.”

New York is a very different place than Lake Geneva: and when I came here I found certain things disconcerting…You cannot see the stars from the shores of the East River.  You cannot and absolutely should not dip your toes in as they might fall off as a result.  And yet, I was compelled to do so.  During my first week in New York, I even tried to bridge the gap between my old home and my new surroundings by kayaking on the Hudson River.  I am not a boatswoman, but I can tell you this is not the same as sailing on Lake Geneva and is certainly not for the faint of heart.

I went to New York to study acting, and one of our first in-class assignments was to think of somewhere we felt safe.  I thought of my front porch.  Our teacher asked us to expand this vision: What do you feel?  I feel the wicker of the porch swing and the breeze off the lake.  What do you see?  The sun on Main Street and its reflection off the lake.  What do you hear? The tide of the lake rolling in and out.  What do you smell? The lake.  And then suddenly that memory was influenced by a thousand other memories of hot summer nights running down the beach with my friends, and the first day of spring dipping my toes in off the pier, and the last boat ride my family would take in the fall before it was too cold to go out…walking on the ice with my third grade class to measure its thickness…staring at the stars from the Riviera after Prom.  When I relayed all this to my class I was crying…sobbing actually, and I’m still not sure why.

When I left you, it is possible that I had taken you for granted. I believed you were a lake like any other lake and that you were not particularly special.  I was wrong. You are the most special place in the world to me.  And, I’m not saying I want you back or anything— I’m just saying I miss you and think of you often.  Wherever I live, you are my home.

All my love,

Jacey Powers


  1. John — I very much enjoyed reading Jacey’s letter to the lake. It was written in a casual manner, but struck me as heartfelt … and of course it made me reflect on my hometown and its Fox River, which still runs through my veins. Thanks for posting the letter. Recently, brother Don told me what a good bit of writing it was … and I agree!
    My best to you and you family. Bill

    • Thanks, Bill. Appreciate your comments. Best to you and yours, as well.

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