When the recent cyclone bomb hit an enormous swath of North America, I understood the meaning of the Lake Effect. Most people envision a calm, peaceful lake most of the year, but you get to experience its winter harshness when you live lakeside. Despite protection from Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, the bitter cold usually comes from the southwest, hitting the northeast corner of our unit dead on. It can be brutal.
We had little choice at the time. Our house was sold, the closing finalized, and the deal we had bid on fell through on January 1st. Happy New Year. We had to be out within a month, and our prospects were dim. Renting was our only option, but so places few allowed pets. Only a couple of places in the High Point Country Club, a one-time high-end seasonal community catering to wealthy property owners. After the 2008 Wall Street crash, this gated community fell on hard times. Absentee landlords found properties on the cheap, and rents were reasonable for what you get. At our appointed time, we arrived on a gray, cold, rainy day in January and, in our car, assessed the huge Georgian-style mansion, suggesting Tara from Gone With the Wind.
The property manager had already rescheduled our appointment once before, and now she was late. I wanted to leave, but Yuri remained optimistic. We reminded ourselves that this was the most rural part of Northwest New Jersey, and things may be done differently here. Arriving in a white Mercedes Benz, her clothes were trendy, with an expensive tag. A demeanor that was friendly with an edge, she spoke ill of the previous tenants citing that while they were connected to a country club member, they did not take care of the unit, and there was a flooded lower level and a kitchen fire. The workers were on the premises renovating the place. Heavy boots left imprints of white dust from work being done.
The open space was inviting despite the January chill. All I had to do was look out the window and see the willow tree swaying its fronds amid a copse of mature trees. The lake was serene; its ice-encrusted rim enhanced the placid quality that we wanted. The covered back porches offered privacy, respite, and peace that we needed after the last couple of years fixing up my childhood home. I was hooked. Quiet enjoyment was what the property manager promised.
Seasonal units with no insulation and floor-to-ceiling glass sliding doors that offer a view of the lake twenty-five feet from the door. The kitchen renovation was done cheaply, and I could feel the cold air slipping through the less-than-adequate windows. There was no storm door to protect us from the frigid temps. The utilities were our responsibility, and it was all electric. It was the Lake Effect trap.