Peter Costa: On the art of skipping stones

Peter Costa

October is a quiet month on the lake. The morning water turns to glass and mirrors the tree line, blending the reflected with the real.

Leaves hang motionlessly awaiting the final command to fall. Geese gather on one end of the lake and then ascend in close formations, leaving ripples on the lake.

Gone are the powerboats and jet skis. Also absent is the “Geronimo!” yell from the boy who has perfected his cannonball dive so that it generates the greatest splash.

October prompts memories of a summer well spent swimming, canoeing and fishing. Just a few weeks ago, my older brother visited the lake. He patrolled the beach looking for flat stones he could skip across the water. He was intent on getting 20 skips per throw, and he managed to reach that goal a few times.

I walked the beach near the wall, watching my brother sidearm a rock across the water. How many rocks had I seen him throw when we were kids, I don’t know. This was a time before adulthood, families, careers and mortgages. Now we had replaced our parents and became the oldest generation in our families.

The sun rose a bit higher and a freshening wind from the northwest churned up a little chop across the lake. My brother stopped skipping rocks and put his hands on his hips and stared out at the far shore. He was silent for a full minute as he processed the present.

“It’s still beautiful here,” he said.

“It sure is,” I said, and looked across the lake.

He turned slowly and started walking away. I followed him up the concrete steps that he and I helped our dad build. My brother had hauled the biggest boulders that we had been given by a nearby farmer who was clearing an old wall from a pasture. My brother put them in our sturdy wooden boat and I rowed us home. Five decades later, we were walking up those same concrete steps that were starting to be covered with pine needles.

We were two brothers, from two different cities, entering the October of our lives.

Peter Costa is a senior editor with GateHouse Media New England and is the author of two books of humor. His latest, “Outrageous CostaLiving: Still Laughing Through Life,” is available at