I grew up in Northern Minnesota. In the 1950’s my grandparents purchased a large plot of land along Lake Pokegama in Grand Rapids. Despite the numerous lakes in the vicinity, Pokegama was known as “the lake”. When I was little, (and needed speech therapy), I would always say, “Let’s go to the wake! I want to go to the wake!” And I am certain that I spoke the truth. I loved it there. I still do. It was always a place of solace and refuge. We spent a lot of time there before my parents divorced when I was 7. After that, I was there frequently since it became my dad’s home. There was a cabin and from that about 1000 feet of lake-shore going down to a sandy point that wrapped around to a cove.
(We found baby snapping turtles in abandoned eggs down in The Cove when I was in 5th Grade. Assuming they were dead and would make a great “show and tell,” my dad put them in his coat pocket. They must have just been cold because, once they warmed up, they started moving around. We named them Jeff and Julie and they did make an even more amazing “show and tell” at school.)
This Friday, (which happens to be my birthday), the cabin will be sold. (We are also selling our SLC condo this week so I guess it is the season to clean out extra properties or something.) It is bittersweet. The Lion has never had the opportunity to go there and part of me wants to jet off to MN just so he can.
I have so many memories of The Cabin.
|Testing out the water with Dad.|
|Relaxing on the dock with Mom|
|Spending some quality time with Grandma. (I love that she wore a flower in the her hair. I will never, ever be as stylish as her or get as tan as she did.)|
|Practicing my boating skills.|
|Getting in one last walk with Grandma before she headed to Florida for the winter.|
As I got older, there were more and more things to enjoy – knee-boarding, fishing, swimming, paddle-boating down to Snapping Turtle Cove, seeing how much rocking it would take to flip the paddle-boat over (and try not to capsize it), feeding chipmunks, (including my “pet” Short Tail), trying to chase seagulls while driving the boat, seeing who could crank up the boat ramp faster, football and baseball with my dad, camping, snorkeling and looking for fish and minnows, timing Dad as he tried to swim the butterfly between the docks (a distance of about 350 ft). (FYI – My dad is amazing!)
|Dad standing in awe of my rock skipping skills! We’d have # of skips contests multiple times a day.|
|Sometimes, I would just lie on my back, listen to the birds and stare through the trees. (It was usually after some crazy diving catch when we’d play football and I needed to catch my breath.) It was so peaceful and quiet, away from the world.|
In the winter, we would have contests where we would throw rocks out on to the ice and see who could throw it the furthest. In the spring, this changed to throwing the rock as high as possible so that it could build up momentum, the goal being to break through the ice. When the lake was frozen and there wasn’t snow, we could skate all along the shoreline. If there was snow, my dad would shovel off a rink. I would skate and we’d play hockey for a short time and then head in for cocoa. Looking back, he must have really loved me to spend an hour shoveling just for 20 minutes of skating. (Again, my dad is a amazing!) When the weather was bad, we’d play hockey in the house. (I hope Grandma can’t read blog posts in heaven…) Sometimes, we’d go for walks around the property line, which was pretty extensive. It was fun hiking over and through obstacles. I remember Dad’s boot breaking through the ice in The Cove and he kept trudging on. One time we got lost on the snowmobile and it took forever to get home.
Sometimes, we’d go to the neighbor’s fish house and watch the fish swimming through the hole. Frozen lakes are quiet but loud. It’ll be eerily quiet and then the ice will crack, sometimes forming large ridges (which we would hope and pray no snowmobilers would hit although sometimes they did and it had grave results). When the ice finally started to melt, (and sometimes it felt like July by the time the lake cleared), we’d take the paddle-boat out and whack at the ice with the oars. I really felt that I was helping to get the ice off the water by breaking it up.
|No idea what I’m doing but I sure look happy for it being 40 below zero.|
The house next door (through a little trail in the woods) was a vacation rental so provided a revolving door of new friends each week. I would wait anxiously to see who it was (and as I got older, if there were any cute boys). Then I would need to plot how to introduce myself and make a friend. I was grateful when there were return guests that took all of the anxiety out of the situation. It was always an adventure and opportunity to meet all sorts of people. I’m not sure if I would do that nowadays and that is sad whether it is due to society’s influence or my own social apprehensions.
|Check out that monster of a fish!|
I think the garage was officially 5 stalls. It may very well be bigger than the cabin. It was filled to capacity with random tools. (My grandfather thought himself a craftsman – although I don’t think he was very good since Grandma didn’t even trust him to cut down a tree correctly without her wearing a hard hat which she kept near the kitchen.) My dad collected old cars – a 38 Ford Coupe and a 37 Ford Pickup. (Dad, correct me in the comments, if needed.) My uncle had an old Chris Craft wooden boat (that always reminds me of “On Golden Pond”). The garage always seemed full. Poor Dad has been trying to go through it all in preparation for the sale. (Let’s say it one more time, “My dad is amazing!”) Here is LJ trying out the riding mower. That orange helmet in the back was mine when I was little and we’d go for rides on the mo-ped or the snow mobile.
|LJ’s first trip to the cabin was a little chilly to get out on the water so we explored the garage.|
Inside the cabin, you could find all sorts of gems. It was filled with paintings that my grandmother had done. She loved reading and puzzles (as do I) and so there was no shortage of books, puzzles and games.
The TV, however, did not work very well. I would complain about being bored and she would give me a gentle lecture on being productive and pull out a project. (There was a kiln – or maybe two – in the garage.) We would do pottery, crimp art, draw, work on my, (in her opinion), bad penmanship, and go for walks around “the loop”. (The road where the cabin is situated loops around onto another road. It was my first version of doing a 5k. Grandma liked to do it at least once a day.) She bought me some personalized stationary and taught me the art of letter-writing. Our lunch was always “Sandwich Buffet” and, if we cleaned our plate, (that rule went for Dad too), we could have two cookies. Dinner was always followed by a scoop of ice cream with some homemade chocolate sauce while we played a game – usual Royal Rummy.
It is my memories of time with her that are one of the toughest things about not being able to go back there. I can sit on the porch and hear her laugh. I can go in the bedroom and am instantly brought back to listening to her and my dad play scrabble while I fell asleep. I feel closest to her there. I do not know if she ever knew the amount of influence she had on me. I would not be who I am if it were not for her and she is one of the most amazing and intelligent people I have ever met. (Both of my grandmothers were extraordinary. I’m a lucky girl.)
|This picture is (obviously) not taken at the cabin but I love it.|
|Plus, she raised this guy to be one of the best men that I know.|
As I mentioned, The Lion never made a trip but LJ did. I was grateful he got to experience some of the things on the list of must-do’s at The Cabin.
|He did a much better job at paying attention than I did when I was his age.|
|I see this picture and think “Home”. I think that is our property in the background going down to the point. The tallest tree that you can see has had an eagle’s nest in it for years. It was right in the middle of the yard.|
|Walking through the woods down to the point.|
|He just jumped in the water as soon as he saw it. The water was a bit high which is why he got to witness the below picture.|
|Grandpa Jack doing his best to act like Peter.|
You may have noticed a “My dad is amazing” theme throughout this post. But that is just because it is true. As much as I associate The Cabin with my grandmother, it is 1000 times more that I think of him and memories of him. I have mentioned before that my childhood was, at times, less than ideal. But time with him, out at the cabin, always gave me time to reflect and put things into perspective. It was my temple. It was my mountain. (Note to God: If there is a “Sherry’s Arm Road” in heaven, I call dibs!)
|A quiet moment with Dad down by The Cove near where Grandma and Grandpa’s ashes are scattered.|
|I wonder how many times we made this walk together and how many different topics were covered as we meandered along. (He was always good about wearing blaze orange in the fall when it was hunting season.)|
|I’m so proud to call him my dad.|
|I have always been (and always will be) a “Daddy’s Girl”.|