The automobile rattled to a halt and two men climbed out. The third backed the trailor toward the water, until the boat bobbed on the waves. With their gear already packed tightly in the boat, the men climbed in as well and rowed across the lake to their destination, a forested piece of land, isolated and perfect for camping and hunting.
Eventually, the men decided to bring their wives and children along on vacation. And so a cabin was built on their isolated hunting grounds. Years later, a crude road was put in along the peninsula. As more people sought to build vacation homes in the once isolated wilderness, the family sold half of their property to my great grandparents. My great grandfather built a cabin on the hill overlooking the lake, and I have been visiting this place my entire life.
We are lucky to be on a lake that is valued by so many. Although there are cabins dotting the shoreline, there are also long strips of undeveloped forest land, purchased by wealthy families during the logging era and meant to remain in their natural state.
I don’t really remember much about my young childhood, but I cherish a framed photo I have of me, as a three year-old, walking with my great grandmother, along a colorful autumn leaf covered driveway that led to the neighbor’s cabin. My great grandmother loved this place, and she enjoyed sharing it with family and friends.
So many memories…
In the summer, we swam in the lake, went tubing behind my uncle’s speedboat, and canoed to undeveloped islands with the neighbor girl in order to explore and build crude forts out of sticks. In the winter, I cross country skied on the barren and hilly road, ice skated on the lake, and went snowmobiling with my cousins.
We rarely ate doughnuts in my family, but I recall a tradition of stopping by a doughnut shop on our way up north. Even yesterday, when my parents drove up to visit us here, they brought doughnuts. And I remember driving into the nearest town just to visit the fudge shop where you could watch the fudge being made up front and eat ice cream in the back. That fudge shop is still there, but they no longer serve ice cream.
Traditions… As a teenager, I learned to drive on the road that some call the tiger tale because of its winding and hilly nature. I hope someday my daughter will learn to drive along the same road. Campfires were another summer tradition. Roasting marshmallows, making S’mores, and cooking pudgy pies over the fire was always so much fun. And there is the fireplace. If you don’t remember to open the damper, the whole cabin will fill with smoke in a matter of minutes.
Now this place belongs to my mother, but she makes sure it belongs to all of us. We visit as often as we can. One week during spring break, one week in June prior to starting summer school, and one week now. One week to rest, one week to play, in the deep north woods before I go back to work as a teacher.
I fully understand the gift this place is and will continue to be. And I cherish it.