Welcome to my blog. Thanks for coming! One day I hope my little piece of internet real estate will be home to lots of family photos, pictures of my scrapbook and card art, with some random thoughts and memories posted on a somewhat regular basis. Mostly my world is very predictable, but occasionally some excitement will find me, so visit often. Who knows what useful (or useless) information you may find here.


Saturday, August 9, 2014

Lake Memories

The time has come for our annual 4th of July family gathering at the lake!!!   

First things first, though - I don't know what's up with all the blue links in this post.  I didn't make them, and have no clue where the link will take you, so you might not want to be clicking on them.  

Now - back to The Lake!  In the olden days, when people didn't have to work 7 days a week, and holidays/weekends were a time of relaxation, our clan would gather at the lake most every weekend in the summer. 4th of July was always special, though. The whole family, and sometimes a few stragglers, would gather at the cabin for a wonderful time of outdoor fun, contraband bottle rockets, and firecrackers.  We would wait impatiently for dusk, load up all the boats, and head for The Islands for the best fireworks show around. It was as much fun watching the hundreds, maybe thousands of boats gathering perilously close, as it was to watch the skies light up like magic. The colors were vivid, and the booms were deafening.  
The adrenaline would really start to pump as the myriad of vessels would slowy disperse, moving at a snail’s pace until a safe distance from the others, each making its journey back home in the black of night.  I loved facing backwards during the trip home, to watch the red and green lights slowly fade away, like a starburst in slow motion.  It was an ominous feeling, gliding over the black waters, and I dared not trail my hands over the side of the boat, for fear of whatever might be lurking underneath. 

Once back at the cabin, we would crank up (literally) a freezer of homemade ice cream – we cousins taking turns sitting on top of the churn until our butt cheeks were as cold and frozen as the ice upon which we sat.  The menfolk would turn the crank until the ice cream would be so thick and frozen, the handle would no longer turn.  An eternity later, to us kids at least, we’d finally get to open the churn and enjoy the homemade deliciousness.  Grownups would gather around the table to play cards, and we kids would go outside to catch lightning bugs, or spin tall tales about most anything.  Far into the night, the younger generation would finally settle down.  Back in those days, there were three bedrooms upstairs with a screened porch that ran the width of the cabin.  The kids got the middle bedroom.  We’d lie in bed, whispering and giggling for a while, then the muffled voices of the grownups on the porch would lull us to sleep.  Pitch black dark it was, except for the glow of cigarettes (that thankfully, they all gave up!)  out on the porch. Next morning would find us all starving, and ready to devour the huge breakfast of bacon, eggs, grits, and toast.  The kitchen folk had a finely-tuned system for getting everything on the table, hot and steamy, for that many people.  Later on (we had to wait 30 minutes after eating!) we’d jump in the lake, where we’d stay for hours, our fingers and toes shriveled up like prunes.  Until it was time to cut the watermelon. Boat rides, zip-boarding, water skiing, and watermelon – the only things that could get us out of the water in those days.  We’d be so waterlogged that when we lay down at night, it still felt like we were bobbing on the waves.  What fun times!!!

Back then we couldn’t wait to be grownups.  So we could do whatever we wanted to.  Have our own apartment, car, job, etc.   Oh well, the grass is always greener on the other side.  (though often we find that it’s not grass at all, but astroturf!.... or if it IS grass, the reason it is so green is the fertilizer from all the CRAP you have to go through to get there)  Life as an adult isn’t what we thought it would be.  We are all blessed, for sure, and do not take our amazing family for granted.  But the adults from our childhood are now in their golden years, and we ourselves are coming face to face with our senior years.  Every day I get solicitations for a walk-in bath-tub, a Lil’ Rascal scooter, a Health Alert necklace (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”)  The years are whizzing by in warp speed.  Now, our lives are spent enjoying our own adult children and grandchildren, while at the same time, keeping a cautious eye on our aging parents.  We face and conquer challenges that we would never have dreamed of while we were kids having grand adventures on the water.  And that’s as it should be.  There is plenty enough time to be an adult with responsibilities.  

My generation of cousins is so very fortunate.  We saw each other two to three times a month, sometimes every weekend.  We spent lazy summer days and nights at Mama Nay and Daddy Bill’s house together, and we were perfectly satisfied with only our bicycles, some jack stones, and our imaginations to keep us entertained.   I wouldn’t take anything for those times with my brother and my cousins, growing up together.

Our children experienced that to a much lesser degree than did we.  As young parents ourselves, we were busy.  We saw each other for a few hours on designated family days.  Except for one or two trips that our parents (their grandparents) took them on, they didn’t experience what it’s like to spend days together, the way we did. 

And now, a new generation of children has come along, and they barely know each other. 

Time passes, things change.  We work ourselves to death, we over-commit ourselves, and somehow another year passes by. 

We don’t gather at the lake every weekend like we used to do.  We hardly gather at all any more.   With busy work schedules that no longer encompass just M-F work hours, and kids involved in every activity imaginable, it’s just impossible to get everyone together at the same time.

But we try.  And even though we will not celebrate the 4th of July on the 4th of July, in a few short hours we will gather at our old stomping ground – The Lake.  These days it’s no longer a cabin.  Joyce and Gene retired almost 30 years ago, sold their home in the city, and remodeled the cabin into a lovely home.  Though the screened porch has been turned to a day porch, and the creaky outdoor chaise lounge is no longer a focal furniture piece in the great room, “the lake” will always be “the lake”, and hold precious memories for us.  It was on those bare steps leading upstairs that Sharon, Jeff, Michael, and I were forced to watch the first man on the moon – on a tiny little black and white tv with rabbit-ears for an antenna.   We thought it was undue punishment to have to watch something so boring.  But – our parents were right.  Some day we could say we saw it, and we’d remember exactly where we were. 

With the stormy night behind us, and more forecast for the day, I am praying the sky will empty itself soon, and leave us with a nice day so we can spread out and enjoy the outdoors – and The Lake!!   We will miss those who are no longer with us.  There’s a big empty hole in our hearts because they are gone.  We will miss those who are unable to attend for various reasons.  But you're with us in spirit.  

I love this crazy family of mine.  And while there’s the usual chaos and disorganization (think herding cats) to get everyone gathered for the blessing before we eat, the love between us is palpable.  And I can’t wait to be with My People. 

Happy 4th of July, everyone!!!!