Lake snob

whitefish lake
whitefish lake

There are phobias for all sorts of things. Here are some interesting ones that I found.

Cyclophobia: fear of bicycles.

Ephebiphobia: fear of teenagers.

Arachibutyrophobia: fear of peanut butter sticking to the roof of the mouth.

Auroraphobia: fear of the Northern Lights.

Geliophobia: fear of laughter

Gnosiophobia: fear of knowledge.

Apeirophobia: fear of infinity.

Geniophobia: fear of chins.

However, in all of my skimming of phobia websites, I could not find my own personal phobia: the fear of being too far from a lake.

When I was young, my grandparents owned a cabin in northern Minnesota. It had a sandy beach, warm water, and, best of all, no weeds. For my entire childhood, the Micheletti cabin was my favorite place on earth, and it was largely because of the lake. When my family moved to Washington, D.C. when I was in eighth grade, one of my friends told me about her family’s cabin in the woods. For the life of me, I could not understand why you would ever own a cabin that was not on a lake; it was a total mystery to me.

When I attended college in Colorado, I desperately missed water. It was dry there, drier than I had expected. Oh, sure, Colorado had rivers, but those were not the same. Rivers moved. I preferred the calm, rippled, warm surface of a lake, where you did not have to pay such intense attention to, say, being swept away by a powerful current and then dragged under a monstrous floating log.

There was also a reservoir nearby, and I would not go near it. You could tell that this reservoir was fake, and this profoundly bothered me, not even from an environmental or even an aesthetic standpoint, but from some visceral, negative response within me. I just knew: this body of water was not a real lake, and because of that, I shunned it. There was nowhere to swim on a hot, sunny Colorado day, and this situation made me acutely panicked. What is the point of all of that sunshine if you can’t also cool down in a lake? I suppose you can see that when I did not have a lake nearby, available and ready for swimming, I felt uncomfortable. Out of sorts. Anxious. Does that qualify as a phobia?

When I moved to Whitefish, I could breathe more easily. Here was a lake right in town. It was perfect. I could be swimming within minutes. There were lakes everywhere: Flathead Lake, Swan Lake, Beaver Lake, Murray Lake. And, better yet, most of the hiking involved lakes! You often would end up at a lake at the end of a trail or at least see one along the way. This felt much better to me.

You do pay a price. These lakes are cold around here. Glacial. They don’t always warm up when we want them to. I learned to strip down and leap, quickly, into Cobalt Lake, almost seven miles down the trail in Two Medicine, dodging chunks of winter ice still floating near me. Then, the sun would warm me again.

Now I live in Columbia Falls. A river runs right through town, which appeals to my fly-fishing husband, but I am still too far from swimming lakes for my liking. Oh, I know, there is Spoon Lake and Lake Five, but I am used to a lake only two minutes away. People try to sell me on Hungry Horse Reservoir, and I must admit, I am a lake snob. Growing up in the land of 10,000 lakes did that to me.

This summer, whenever I can convince my children (which is getting easier now that two out of three of them can swim), you will find us at the lake. I know that one of the reasons that Montana, and specifically, this valley, sucked me in permanently was the close proximity to lakes. The mountains are the ultimate bonus.