Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Shared experiences

Our deck view last week
When I was a kid, my dad designed and built a lake cabin about an hour's drive from our home in northern Minnesota. I learned to love fishing, picking blueberries, listening for loons, and just being in the woods and close to nature.

I discovered, or developed, an important part of myself there; I was relaxed, grounded, in the moment. I felt healthy. As an adult, I lived and worked hundreds of miles away, but I headed to that plain little cabin for summer vacations and left behind all the tensions and frustrations of my job. Peter, who had grown up in New York and spent family time at the ocean, came to love the north woods as well.

The cabin was sold in 1993, and that summer Peter and I became regulars at St. Paul Saints baseball games. We never revisited the lake experience until last summer, when I rented a cabin at a great little resort on Star Lake in north-central Minnesota. We loved the place, and I realized how much I had missed the part of me that spent hours and hours attuned to the gently lapping waves, the sound of wind in the trees, and the constant presence of birds and other critters, seen and unseen.

Knowing how our grandkids enjoy nature, we immediately wanted to share this lovely experience with them and their parents. So this year, we had a two-part vacation. The first three days Peter and I rested, fished, took a couple of hikes to check out potential kid activities, and entertained our friends Carol and Michael, who have retired to a lake home about 50 miles from "our" resort. It was wonderful to see them, and really fun showing them around our new favorite place.

On Wednesday, Abby arrived with the kids (their dad had a prior engagement, the week-long bicycle ride across Iowa). In short, they LOVED everything about it. Among the highlights: fishing, swimming, playing on the beach and at the little playground, hiking, helping row a boat, spotting an eagle and some deer, hearing loons day and night, sitting on the deck among the treetops, playing in the screened porch that Augie calls the Game Room, eating fresh-caught fish, and having sleepovers with Pa and Grandma. Oh, and playing with the computer and iPad. Hey, we all needed some down time. This is not my childhood no-water-no-electricity cabin.

Vi and I were lying on beach towels one afternoon, warming in the sun after swimming. "Grandma," she said, "Your cabin is better than your house." Why is that, ViolaMae? "Because it has bedrooms and a bathroom downstairs for me and my family to sleep."

I have more stories that will wait for another post. Suffice it to say that as we drove home, Peter and I were wearing broad smiles, enjoying our north woods experience doubly because we were able to share it with the youngsters and because they embraced it with so much enthusiasm.

When they visit Daddy's family in Montana, they love to visit a working farm. This year they also went to Yellowstone, where they learned to identify the scat and tracks of bison and other animals. They can't wait to go again, and Augie knows exactly which animals to look for out west. He knows his list of Minnesota animals (and birds), too, and we look forward to years of discovery and fun ahead.  


Teresa Evangeline said...

Being on the lake is quintessential summer time fun It sounds wonderful. I live in lake country but not on one, and I do miss those things you described. Time to get to a beach.

Terra said...

This lake resort is a wonderful visit for you and your grandkids. They get to bond with nature, learn about it and hang out with you tow.

DJan said...

Passing along the joy of nature's bounty with your grandkids must be a wonderful experience. I am glad to be able to share it with you, and smile at the wonderful adventure that everyone shared. Including me. :-)

Far Side of Fifty said...

Sounds perfect to me! Vi said it all..what a gal:)

Sally Wessely said...

Sharing those places we love most with those we love most is one of life's greatest blessings. It sounds like you all made some precious memories. You will find much joy in recalling them during the winter months.

Jeanie said...

It sounds like you are establishing a wonderful tradition of trips to the lake with you grandkids that they will look forward to and always remember.

Dee Ready said...

Your posting today vividly brought back to me memories of camping at Gooseberry Falls and other state parks. The sounds of Lake Superior both in summer and winter. The call of the loon. The smell of campfire. Thank you for sharing your retreat.

Linda Myers said...

What a great gathering! We've spent only a week on a lake, as we live closer to the ocean, but it makes me want to look around for one to go to.

Midlife Roadtripper said...

A friend of mine is doing the Iowa bike ride also.

My family visited a lake (Green Lake) in Minnesota each year also. I began taking my kids when the oldest was 3. Great way for my parents and brothers and their families to gather. I so loved the lake. I can easily imagine how much fun you all had together.

Indigo Roth said...

Hey Nancy! What a lovely tale. The UK is such a tiny place by comparison, and these kind of places are few and far between; I envy the sheer emptiness of the North American continent. Indigo


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