The Lake of Many Colors
Lake Zurich, we’ve found, is a shape-shifter. We’ve named her the lake of many colors.
Some mornings, our living room is flooded with orange light. You can feel the glow just beyond the bedroom door, pressing its way in with a few warm streaks slipping through the cracks. 5:30am, and the foyer swells with the red and yellow sunrise, reflecting the sky off the large white tiles and cream walls.
It’s the height of summer, the heat already palpable. Through the window, Lake Zurich is liquid gold. Glimmering with its 24 karats, the water is completely undisturbed, too early for even the Swiss.
Summer afternoons, it seems the shades of blue are undecided, too lovely for nature to choose just one. The sky and the sun compromise, picking a new blue each day: turquoise, robin’s egg, canary, the deepest of navy, the lightest of aquamarine, sometimes a solid hue, mostly blended, always radiant. It shimmers and it beckons. Coyly, almost suggestively.
The lake’s pull is irresistible, and throughout the city, people answer it’s call. Ferry, kayak, sailboat, swimmer. We ourselves were not immune, each day laughingly, gingerly, stepping over the rocky bank for a dip, always marveling: “how can this lake be real?” There is nothing smooth and glassy about this lake, it’s a lake of movement, plied by every manner possible, it’s water too enticing to be denied, and you can feel it’s swell of pride. This is a good lake.
Some days, the lake disappears completely. The fog so thick it’s impossible to see the house across the street, impossible to see where it stops and the sky begins, blinding but somehow still beautiful.
So different from that fiery red of summer, this lake is softly muted but somehow more saturated.
The autumn lake can be pink, which is unexpected, but every so often there is a break in those cloudy fall skies. Wednesday morning, I am up before the sun, and between coffee cups purples and pinks lightly bathe the water’s surface. So different from that fiery red of summer, this lake is softly muted but somehow more saturated. Is this the true magic hour? After rain for a week straight, gray gray and more gray, it is magnificent to behold. Unexpected but most welcome.
Slate. Pantone says that slate is an equal mix of purple and green pigments, and the lake seems to find comfort in this color. It certainly seems to be staying a while this winter. The warmth of the lake is gone but the enchantment is still there. They all line up along the shore to gaze longingly, bundled up against the chill, at the quiet calm. Ferries are docked for the season, save for the nightly cheese fondue schiff.
Slate, but not gray. The color manages to pull the whites of the timbered houses ringing the lake into sharper detail, and you can almost see a fine black ink outlining each door and window and roof. Slate, but not sad.
A morning in January, after a howling storm, trees naked and finally exposed after the wind took the last leaves to their graves, the lake is still. So serene, so icy, so white, it could be frozen. Can it freeze? I know the answer, too big to freeze, but I still can’t help picturing this huge body completely frosted like a cake.
The lake of many colors is magic.
The lake of many colors is magic. What other explanation can there be? I am an earth sign, through and through, always have been and always will, happiest waving at you from the shore but feet firmly on land - and even I am left utterly enamored.