16 Oct 1997
The Lake Cabin
There is this little plot of land I know that although it does not even belong to me, still holds a few truck loads of my childhood memories as well as many relaxed yesterdays that I hope to repeat to the point of having my own. My favorite place of retreat is my uncle Rogers lake cabin. To me, the lakes are the most beautiful country. There are outreaching trees, vast blue bodies of water, and roads that curve around the hills and into valleys. They are so chuck full of adventure- little creeks left undiscovered, sand castles still to be erected, and fish to be caught. Every memory out there has been a great one and I am never disappointed even if it rains. Its distance is not far either. It is an amazing thought that you are a good hour away from the hustle and bustle of your normal life and yet so close to heaven all at once. The lakes represent my favorite book, my special escape.
My uncle has now modernized the plot more because he has retired from the Air Force so that he may live all year there- a giant dream of mine. Although he changes the cabins appearance he continues to have his tree farm in the back forest area. This same area is home to a few kids running around getting incredibly bit up digging for night crawlers to fish with and boy cousins structuring their treehouse far up into the sky accommodating to their bodies by adding a hose for their bathroom needs from the nailed up wooden home to the ground which I was jealous of. The three stall garage that sits opposite to the cabin across the road contains his prize possessions of a tiny red MG convertible and a blue 1952 Chevy truck that is now in my fathers hands.
Walking tip-toe on the hot blacktop road to the sandy other parking lot I can close my eyes and visualize his first cabin. The worn red wood holding two small bedrooms, his bar, a kitchen and bath, and the den-like area with a fireplace.
The Green bedroom had two single bunk beds set up in the rafters with a ladder between that could be pulled up so we wouldnt fall the long way down. Many nights I stayed up there because I was the oldest and would lay listening to the hail and rain hitting the roof only three feet from my head on the other side of those old dead spider webs we never did clean up but complained and screamed about almost every night.
The small kitchen has been a cite to hamburgers, sloppy-joes, and hot dogs for the picky kids as has the bathroom to many a phrase like-How did the sand get there?- Mom I dont wanna put on sunscreen (cuz all the other cousins were supposedly half way to the middle of the lake)! and Who gets to sleep on the bunks THIS time? The last was due to the kids not realizing thirteen is bigger than two.
And around the corner leads to Rogers personal bar which we would pretend at to be a bartender making up dangerous shots of vermouth and whiskey for the sailors. The deck doors face the bar looking out onto the small hidden lake inviting you in. Her name is Melissa and she begs you to come and splash your sister.
As you walk on the deck to make your way toward the water, underneath you is Charlies home. Charlie was the friendliest chipmunk I ever saw. As we ate outside on sunny summer days hed peak out and my uncle would feed him his entree of peanuts and beer. The few rows of trees that lie before you in the journey to the water are most likely Charlies happy hunting grounds but we also had had the beanbag game played here and a few tricky games of frisbee.
Once you hit the hot sand, the sun greets you with a penetrating warmness and whereas in the city you would have been angry because you would have been sweating buckets, this is the lakes where the warmth is so welcomed and expected. I run quickly to the waters edge and can remember the exact locations of all the sand turtles I built or the large castles that I would let water come into and form around until a fast boat went by to produce enormous waves that would end up drowning my kings and queens. I close my eyes and besides seeing the orange from the sun perforating them, can picture my earliest days on the beach with my siblings and cousins. Alisa in her little blue bikini that never quite hid her baby belly, me in my ragged pink one, and both of us coated in SPF 45 smelling like some sort of fruit.
I glance back at the beginning of the 2x4s which make the dock and see our childhood bonfires of smores and red cheeks and giggles. All the fights we endured, the big kids versus the little kids, and our so cool come-backs and put-downs. I walk over and the pole is still there. The pole my uncle placed near the shore to put a bright orange windsock on top of so we could find our way home across the lake after much fishing or tubing. I can recollect when Robin climbed monkey-like up it to replace the old fading white one only a few summers ago and how we cheered her on and took many pictures.
Jumping up onto the dock, careful not to ask for splinters, I stroll down to the end of the 2x4s. I stare into the misty seaweeded water and can spot minnows and small sunnies that Jed used to catch without bait. I saved two lives at this spot when I was younger. Neither Robin or Jed were born with much balance obviously. They owe me. Straightening up and peering over to other docks and boats I turn right and remember the sunnie I caught on that particular landing. I was so excited and wanted to show my dad that I hastily ran over to show him but at the same time accidentally catching it in Alisas damp hair. She suddenly looked very Jamaican with a little fish for an earring. She cried and my mom tried not to laugh.
Diving off the dock into the cool water that comes up to my neck I try to calculate the placement of the twenty foot drop off. I latch onto a tub and strategically climb onto it trying hard not to look too foolish. Reminding myself not to go to far out or stay out on it too long and fall asleep for many a Sybils sunburns have some from this situation before.
I scream to everyone on shore or farther yet on the deck of the cabin that the water is warm once you get used to it and my mom grunts in opposition. Jed runs out and belly flops after rubbing sunscreen in large circles on his protruding stomach and back. Later he looks alien-like with bright white and deep red skin.
Looking back at the cabin from here, the small cozy shack is replaced with Rogers design of an A-shaped home of great heighth and encloses the many comforts of a true home. He has added a larger everything. The bar is more his style with Air Force memorabilia plastered on walls and in frames. Instead of the chimney and fireplace, he has seated his old antique wood burning stove that once upon a time was used for drying extremely wet clothes, socks especially. Its major pipe leads all the way to the top of the thirty foot ceiling mirroring his enormous angular windows that encompass the whole wall of the lakeside of the cabin. The area inside is mostly open except for a staircase steers you onto the balcony with three rooms, a bath and two bedrooms. If you were to walk out of any of them you would be in full view of the den, the lake peeping through the windows, or the kitchen. It is just as scenic now to be in the cabin as it is to be outside with the wind carrying away your worries for a day.
The cabin and lakes, in general, have a tranquility to them unmastered, as far as I am concerned, by anywhere else in the world. You can have a blast joking around with friends, take them down to the creek where the lakes meet and have them loose their jelly shoes, or recline on sticky plastic chairs down on the beach and hope to catch a few rays to show off when you return to civilization. The lakes are quiet serene gesture that opens its arms of sunshine and sand and invite you to the most peaceful heaven on earth. And still every time I wonder out there to relax and commune with nature my mind wanders back to those scenes and conversations of what seems only last week.