September 5, 2009
Reflections and re-posts
This was my first ever blog post – a year ago, in August 2008 – posted to a writing community website, hosted by a family friend. It’s really funny to re-read, definitely a different tone than my current blog…but I thought it was appropriate to share now because it’s about our vacation spot up in Maine, where we’ll be for the long weekend.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy, RELAXING Labor Day weekend – see you Tuesday!!
Do you have a special place? Somewhere that gives you peace and fills you with joy, just by virtue of you being there? My special place may not seem that special to others, but to me – and to my family – it’s heaven on earth.
Since I can remember – in fact, since my parents were teenagers – my family has spent the 4th of July weekend, Labor Day, and the first week of August, on a small lake in central Maine. When my mother and her siblings were young, my grandparents bought a small cottage on the sandy shores of Pleasant Lake. I grew up with this magical place as a getaway and it’s one of the things that I’ve never taken for granted.
Now, you have to understand, staying at the cottage means roughing it – no toilets (outhouse behind the house), no hot water (cold water pumped from the lake to the sink and an outside shower), and no entertainment (t.v. and video games are categorically not allowed). But because of this, being at the lake encouraged us (my brothers, cousins, friends, and I) to think outside the box. On sunny days, we can be found out on the beach, in the water, or behind a boat. Rainy days present an unique challenge – I think I’ve played more cards and board games in that one-room cottage than anywhere else on earth! When we were younger, we did things like collecting rocks and painting them like Easter eggs, which gradually evolved to games like flashlight tag and cops ‘n robbers as we grew up. For many of my cousins and friends, Pleasant Lake is where we came of age – first kisses, first drinks, and best friends.
Our cottage is shared between my mother and our family, and the families of her four siblings, and many of the neighbors have similar arrangements – cottages shared among children, grandchildren, and, for some, even great-grandchildren! Close relationships have developed between the families – unique bonds from a special shared experience. I know that I can go through the winter without talking to any of our neighbors (with the exception of a Christmas card perhaps) and pick up right where we’ve left off come summertime.
Pleasant Lake (and the community it entails) is so important to us all that often girlfriends and boyfriends must be given “the lake test” before the relationship becomes really serious. Not only must they survive the rustic conditions (extra points if it rains!), but they must actually enjoy it, and must gain the approval (silent or not-so-silent) of the extended lake family. I had one boyfriend that did not pass the test, while my husband – a city boy from Dublin – passed with flying colors. Our friends at the lake know us as well (if not better than!) as the other members of our family and we are all blessed to have these people in our lives.
There is nothing better than waking up to the sound of camp bells across the lake, walking out to the end of the dock with a cup of coffee in hand, looking across at the mist rising off of the still, gray water. Or going inside to escape the late afternoon sun and falling asleep with the wind blowing through the open doors and the waves lapping at the shore. Or sitting beside a crackling campfire, making s’mores, telling jokes and listening to stories repeated year after year, and watching the stars appear in the inky blue sky.
If I could only live in one place for the rest of my life, I’d choose our cottage on Pleasant Lake – outhouse and all! What is your special place?