Thursday, March 5th, 2020

Family Portrait, Pee-Yoo-Ka Lake

There’s a retention pond near where Mom & Dad live. When I was little, I used to go walking around there with Ari. It’s a pretty place on the outskirts of the city of Syracuse. There are ducks and geese and joggers and trees and dirt trails. In winter, Ari and I used to go skating on it. In late summer when the water is low, it gains the familiar smell of waterlogged decaying vegetation. Sometime in my childhood, I began to refer to the nameless body of water as Pee-Yoo-Ka Lake. At first it was a secret name, spoken only between me and my sister. But good children are not good at secrets. Eventually Mom informed me that the correct term for this small body of water is “the retention pond over by Barry Park,” but by then it was too late. No one excepting her would ever refer to it by such an unpoetic, scientifically and geographically correct name in my presence again.


Akiva, Iris, Mom, Dad and I walked by Pee-Yoo-Ka lake on our way to meet Dad on his way home from work. What with the sun setting and the invasive weeds shimmering like gold in the polarized light, I saw for perhaps the first time ever that this place would probably appreciate a name as pretty and as important as a wetland in the city can be. I directed everyone off the trail and aimed my lens at them for the one and only photo taken on our entire week-long visit to my parents’ house. Maybe the photo would have been better if the smallest person was at the highest point and the tallest person at the lowest, but we’ll never know. I have been impatient behind my camera lately and failed to rearrange them. This is how it is.



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