Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Summer - Lakes - Youth

Summertime to me is being on a lake.

Out of the picture is a tree with a fishing pole and a container of bee moths
Great Bear Lake in Michigan triggers the most memories. The 2 hour drive sitting in between Grandma and Grandpa in a Ford F150. The whole time waiting to drive down this humungus hill. You can't see the drop coming but once you hit the crest it's like the whole world opened up for just you.

The time Grandma made me sit next to the open window when body odor was a new thing to this preteen. She was also very much more concerned than I with my complexion.

The time Grandma told me I was just like my grandpa and that I should try and be better and when I looked at him to see how he took that comment he smiled and winked at me.

One summer every morning, I rowed a perfectly good fishing boat with a motor around our little portion. Makes me tired just thinking about it. The water was smooth as glass on the far side with turtles sunning themselves on fallin logs.

Fishing was always the same time each night. Grandpa and I in the boat I rowed and Grandma and Great-Grandma in the other boat. I was mostly only there to sit in the bow to make it easier to steer. Fishing for me would only last a few minutes I'm sure, but back then it seemed F O R E V E R. So I would pack it up and put on the headphones and read a book while Grandpa fished. I'd like to think I knew what I had. That the time spent together was fleeting and would be looked back upon with yearning.

After the fishing there was card playing and ice cream eating and/or a forging of the refrigerator. No one had video game players and the cottage didn't have cable or even got decent antenna coverage. Its how I learned you never want to sit to the left of Grandma in euchre because you will

N E V E R be able to call trump. One summer there was a new card game we played and that I would consistently win at. Great-Grandma was bound and determined to beat me at least once. Unfortunately that same desire to beat me was the same desire that flowed through my veins to keep winning.

I am almost certain there is nothing better than taking a nap under a tree after total exhaustion from swimming all morning. The feel of the breeze, the smell of the lake and the sound of people and speed boats creating a lullaby only "lake people" understand.
The next best place to sleep was the screened in porch. The moon and stars reflecting off the lake, and lightening bugs or fireflies which ever you prefer as your night-lights. The night time lullaby was provided by frogs, crickets and the occasional fish jumping out of the water.

About two cottages over there was a woman that lived year round on the lake. She was originally from Hungary. She told me stories of crossing the Atlantic and how she was sea sick and missed seeing the Statue of Liberty. She had a fondness for clocks and would listen to talk radio all night. She had a brick from the original house that Joe Louis trained in that was on the far side of the "Big Lake". One summer she asked how it felt to be bitten by mosquitos and in my youth and extreme delectablity to all bugs was dumbfounded at this lack of knowledge.

One of the few times that I got out of going fishing I found a stick near the pier and used it as a baton tapping it on one of the posts and directed a symphony taking my bows from the invisible crowd. I however was asked the next day by the neighbors when that nights show will be starting. The invisible crowd that I thought I had was in fact quite real and was in fact applauding when I bowed.

Is it the place that I miss? Is it my youth? Is it the quality time that I had with my grandparents? Perhaps its all of it ...

I was proposed to on a pontoon. I was married (on a very cold day) next to a lake. Maybe, its not so much summertime means being on a lake but being on a lake being part of who I am.

Indiana trivia: Indiana's shoreline with Lake Michigan is only 40 miles long, but Indiana is still considered a Great Lakes State.

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