Good morning to all my followers.. Beautiful day once again. It is almost officially summer. When I think of summer there is one memory that I keep close to my heart, and that is going away to the summer house each year.
Now, when I was young, I had a best friend Susie. This friendship goes back to the very beginning of time for me. We have been friends since birth. In fact....the history between us goes back even longer than that. Our mothers were friends and even our grandmothers were friends. We all grew up living 2 doors away from each other on Latrobe Ave in Chicago,...until one day, they finally moved out of the neighborhood. Our friendship took a sabbatical...but fate was in our court and reunited us, and even though there maybe 6 months that goes by when we don't speak...we pick up right where we left off when we do. Now that is true friendship.
Well, Susan's Grandma owned a house on a lake in Wisconsin. It was a nice big white home on Spring Lake. She used to rent out rooms in the summer for the fishermen. She had off the side of the house a small deli where the fishermen could come in, rent a row boat, buy some worms and get a sandwich to go. In the summers, I got to go up there sometimes with them to spend a weekend. It was an awesome place, We would get to go swimming all day long and at night we would go out picking night crawlers for the men to buy. I especially loved when it rained at night. Her grandma would always have a puzzle going on the kitchen table and she would put on the kerosene lamp and by the glow of the lamp we would work on puzzles.
Years had passed and when Sue and I reunited, She was engaged to be married and soon after, so was I. We both married within 2 months of each other and I had my first daughter a year after marriage. Sue was going up to the house in Palmyra. That is the town that the house was in, and invited us up for the weekend. Sue's grandma had since passed away and the home now belonged to Sue's mom. Oh what glorious memories there were in going there. I remember taking turns with my husband on watching our baby. Sue and I would swim out to the raft that was in the middle of the lake and just lay there and reminisce about the good times we had there as children. We took advantage of each moment available. My husband, not a swimmer would go up and down the lake on some makeshift raft using a long tree branch to row it along. What a superb weekend it was.
As years went by, Sue's mom would rent out the house, but only to people she knew, so we began to rent the home each summer to go up and take the children. My husband had to work....he had a job that if you took time off, you didn't get paid, and of course being young parents, we couldn't afford for him to take too many days off. So I would go up with my children Janeen and Valerie, and our dog Louie. My husband would join us on Saturday night and stay until we all left on Monday. Sometimes Sue and I would arrange so that the week she and her family would be there was back to back with ours and we would overlap the day so that we could all be there together.
That was a week that I planned for all year long. I would pack up boxes of groceries, Gallons of water...oh they had water there, but it was well water...and the kids didn't like to drink the well water...and to be honest, I didn't like the taste of coffee when made with it. We would have all our summer clothes, although the ones we stayed in was our bathing suits. Packed up the car,, the kids and the Louie, our German Shepherd and off we would go. There was a row boat that belonged to the house, but across the street was a paddleboat rental place. I would rent a paddle boat for the kids and we would carry it across the street, put it in the water and the kids would paddle it over to the house while Louie and I would walk back. One time, we got it in the water, the kids got in and I waved goodbye..."See you both in a few minutes " I told them. Well, within a few seconds, I hear all this yelling and stuff. When I looked back, the girls were frantic....evidentially, the boat didn't have any paddles attached. I had to get a long stick to pull them over to the waters edge and get them out. We removed the boat from the water, took it back across the street, and they replaced it with another. It was a little excitement for the day. All was well from that point on. The girls, myself and Louie our dog would spend most of the time in the water. Louie absolutely loved the water just as much as we did. Sometimes you would forget he was even a dog. One afternoon, the girls and I decided we would just sit on the pier, dangle our feet into the water and just talk. Well, this confused the daylights out of Lou....He just kept looking at us with his head crooked to one side and then to the other. He finally went into the water and swam up to the area where we were sitting, he got up on his hind legs and with his front paws , he started splashing us while at the same time barking away. He wanted us in the water with him.....and made sure we were aware of his intent.
Once, while I went into the house to start dinner, the girls said they were going to take the row boat out and go around the lake. I said fine, but to just keep in mind that I was making dinner and not to stay out too long.
Now I was inside the house, pulling out the potatoes to peel when all of a sudden, I hear this screaming coming from the lake. Now a mother knows the sound of her own children and of course...the screams were from my girls. I dropped the knife and went running out with all sorts of horrible thoughts racing through my head. When I reached the bank of the lake, I could see them way out almost in the middle of lake screaming for me. As I looked at the boat....there was Louie....they had left without him....I am sure he thought it had to have been some sort of mistake, so he, of course swam after them and upon reaching the boat, was trying to jump up and in. With this sort of action, of course the boat was tipping to it's side and the girls were panicked. They of course thought he would tip them over. They knew how to swim, but it was a pretty long distance from he shoreline and were afraid they wouldn't be able to swim the length. Now they tried to help him in, but he weighed about 100 pounds and they couldn't handle his size. All my calling for him to come back didn't help....so I had to get into the paddle boat and paddle my way across the lake so he could get into that boat with me. It was much easier for hi to jump onto the flat backboard. I am sure he thought to himself, well at least I get to go for a ride with someone! He then, of course jumped from the back to the front and sat regally in the seat next to me as I paddled back home with his head held high up in the air and his one ear lopped forward,. What a dog! When people say their animals became part of the family, they do....but Louie sometimes took it to the extremes.
Oh the fun we would have year after year at the house in Palmyra. It was picnics each night out along the lake. In the mornings, when the house was quiet and all were still asleep, I would arise, make coffee and sit on the stoop outside the back door which faced the lake and melt into the stillness of the lake. The water would be still like a sheet of glass. Often times there would be fog lifting up and rising to the heavens. The sound of the geese flying over the water on their way to their daily destination. When they speak of meditation, that was mine, that moment that seemed to belong only to me. It was though that moment was God's gift to enjoy because soon all the hub bub of the day would begin. It was as though God was bestowing a blessing on me. Soon I would hear the pitter patter of Louie coming down the stairs with the clomp, clomp, clomping of the girls behind him. the day had begun...always accompanied with the question of 'What's for breakfast?" .
Oh what I wouldn't give to hear that all over again! What I wouldn't give to be able to go back in time and relive those precious moments.
It was always such a sad day when we knew that the week was over and we had to leave. It was even sadder when the house was sold.
There were no longer going to be those weeks of splendor at the lake.
As I look back, I even remember that I rented it for a week in the early fall and ran a craft show there. I billed it as The Craft Faire in the White House.
My friend and her mom couldn't imagine who would ever come. But I had over 500 people walk through the show. It was all handcrafted and enjoyed by all the women in the area. Luckily it's main road was just behind the house, so it was easily seen. That was the last time we were there....at least on the inside.
Through the years we took many trips up to that house. Passing by with longing in our hearts. It was always like paying a visit to someone you love in a cemetery. Our past lingered there. In that white house, with bedrooms known by the color of their walls, the kitchen table where the pieces of the puzzle no longer are joined together. Where the waters eats away, bit by bit against the shoreline. We look longingly with fond memories. Times have changed, life has moved on, but our hearts and souls still remain there with that longing for just one more moment of splendor and joy and more than anything, a place where a family laughed and played, and, even more importantly, where love always resided.
Since then our family has grown and moved on, and moved away. Louie, God rest his sweet, loving soul has gone to rest. But I am not alone, because those sweet days remain in my heart to cherish until my days are finished here.
My Red Hat group and I are going to go up to Eagle Wisconsin to visit Old World Wisconsin, about 10 minutes from the house. I will surely visit once again and pay homage to the place where memories lie. Oh if those walls could talk, they would probably tell you the same. They would probably tell you stories of all the families that came together in love and laughter. I am so grateful to have had the opportunity to have been one of those families.
If you have never had the opportunity to spend such a vacation...I highly recommend looking into it. For moms...it's a lot more work...but oh, the payback is worth it.