I took a walk yesterday. The last time I took a walk in the middle of the day was so long ago that I cannot remember it. Of course there have been walks while on various vacations, but this was not that. This was a walk on a Tuesday in Lake Geneva, and as with all walks in the area on a random day the walk is best performed on the shore path. So that’s where I went.
The mood yesterday was one of some optimism. I cannot separate my mood from the red or green arrows on the stock market screen, so whether the mood was truly optimistic or my interpretation of the mood was skewed by those green arrows I am uncertain. My son and I had been contemplating eating a 24 inch pizza from a Lake Geneva pizza parlor, and in order to fully contemplate the pending decision we walked. The shore of our choosing was the north one, and we walked for 45 minutes in one direction before turning back towards the car.
The lakefront was alive with activity, but at the same time it was quiet and calm. The lake was as it should be on a sunny spring afternoon. Shimmery and nearly calm. Clear. It was what we know it to be: perfect. The lakefront homes were not entirely full, but almost every home we passed had some activity. A woman on her deck talking on her cell phone. A family in their yard throwing a stick to their lab. Gardeners gardening. House keepers filling bird feeders. Were they using the food to lure in a reliable future food source? Or was this just run-of-the-mill bird feeding? I wondered.
It dawned on me during this period of duress that Geneva is passively showcasing one of its most obvious advantages. During the good times, which are the times that we have nearly all of the time, outside of pesky global pandemics, the proximity of this lake to a large metropolitan area is of extreme importance. This lake could be in northern Wisconsin and it would undoubtedly be a Great Lake. Some people would go there. And they’d drink and toast and think about musky. But this lake is here, so near, and during the good times this is why this lake can support such significant valuations. It’s the proximity, stupid.
If that’s true during the good times, imagine now. That vacation home you bought in some state or country far away? Must be a great thing to own, seeing as how you can’t actually get there. Sure, I suppose, if you’re flying private you could still get there. But what if you’re not flying private, and instead you must line up to board a commercial flight. As Jim Cramer just said, even if flights are cheap do you really want to take that flight? Is the flight worth it? In this we find the extreme and unbiased advantage of Geneva Lake. You can get here. Want to take a drive on a Tuesday because you’re super bored and you know your boat was just launched? Drive up. Want to spend two weeks here because you’re avoiding people? Drive up. Want to take advantage of a Saturday that has a forecast of 78 degrees even though you have a Sunday morning commitment back home? Drive up. Geneva does nearly everything well, but in times like these I think it should be obvious to you that the proximity might just be the most important.
The walk continued, up some hills and around some corners. Points, sure. We talked about the houses and we talked about life, and I encouraged my son to find opportunity in this time. There is opportunity everywhere, I reminded him. A client of mine was out in his lawn and echoed the same advice in a short exchange we were glad to have. The houses were busy, the owners enjoying their place to be alone. Enjoying the solitude. Enjoying the separation. If you are living in the city right now without that escape, how badly do you wish you were here? And if you wish you were here now, during this miserable period in history, how much more will you wish to be here when things are good? It’s not really a question, it’s just the sort of thing I think about when I’m on a Tuesday afternoon walk along the shore when the sun is bright and the lake is calm and the world seems just fine.
Above, my view.