Saturday, July 10, 2021

Life Between the Lakes, part 57



All quiet.

Waiting on the sleepy feeling.

At dawn, it’s love at first sight.

We’ve waited so long.

Summertime is here.

There is a small field in the forest next to the cabin. It is the clearing where flowers grow, kids played, fishermen told fibs and we said goodbye to loved ones as we spread their ashes around the place so many of us love and cherish, almost as much as life itself.

The field saw whiffle ball games, balloon tosses and was a place teen aged girls, giggly on Boones Farm Strawberry Wine, talked about Bobby Sherman and David Cassidy.

I know; I was there.

It was fun and easy.

Life was so easy until our lives changed.

From the clearing at the cabin there are no city lights and they sky remains light long past midnight. The brilliant white illumination of the Milky Way in July and August is raw and untouched; vivid and inspiring.

In 1975, I celebrated my tenth birthday at the cabin, surrounded by family and fictive kin. Birthdays at the cabin were a big deal. With three creative mothers, the day was well organized with games, outings, fun and food.

Our alarm clock was a scratchy Sousa march from the Brunswick Victrola. If we weren’t downstairs before it was over, we got polka after polka, followed by cold pancakes or cold oatmeal.

We quickly learned to respect Sousa.

After breakfast we would all pitch in with chores. This was a log cabin, void of electricity or plumbing located in the thick of the Upper Peninsula and we needed to be ready for anything. We burned paper, carried garbage to the dump, collected kindling, chopped wood, helped our mothers with meals and dishes and helped our Dads by staying away from whatever they were working on.

Baloney sandwiches and Orange Crush fueled our afternoons. Reese Peanut Butter Cups and Bit-O-Honey, made them better. Games of wiffle ball in the side yard were friendly but competitive. Shooting pop bottles in the dump with BB guns was a challenge but it was harder with a Wrist-Rocket slingshot.

We either smelled like Coppertone, Bactine or OFF. We pooped in an outhouse, bathed in the lake and drank water hand pumped from the well. The fishing was always good and we all discovered adolescent freedom in a fourteen foot Alumicraft boat with a 5 horse outboard motor before we could drive a car.

Those were days without college, kids, the internet, politics or bills. Our big treat in July was heading to Papa’s house up the hill and watching the Major League Baseball All-Star Game on TV in early July.

Years passed and one by one, our elders left us but the memories didn’t. And today those memories serve as a subtle and sobering reminder that our generation is next in line.

The world is so different now. We all have changed. My extended family doesn’t make this pilgrimage every year, which makes this gathering special.

For one week out of the year, we can return to a place that rarely changes and we all get to hop into the same time machine.  The summer of 2021 is really here now. My family and fictive kin arrive in a few days and it will be the first time in many years that we will all be together.

Any way you look at it; the week will be full of hugs, beer, tequila and smores. But most of all, there will be laughter; because that is one area in which we excel in creating and inducing and carrying out.

My family often asks me how I remember all these cabin stories.

The answer is: “I remember them because I love this place so much. And I have never stopped thinking about it.”

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