Thursday, July 7, 2011

90 years at the lake

The story of a weekend at the lake is the story of summer in our part of the country.

It seems that every few years of of the big news or editorial magazines runs a summer cover story about why our American summer school break is overly romanticized and puts our nation's chances of world domination in great peril.  To all the summer vacation nay-sayers, I say pish posh.  When I was growing up, my mom was the type of parent who would cry the night before school started again in the fall.  I guess her love of family-focused summertime rubbed off on me.

We spent this past weekend at my grandmother's cabin in the small, rural lake village of Lake Nebagamon, WI.  Yes, there really is such a place, and yes, that really is its name.  Weekends at Lake Nebagamon are an example of summer par excellence.   

Celebrating in the boat parade

Back in April, my cousin A had mobilized the entire family to gather over the 4th of July to celebrate my grandmother's 90th birthday at her cabin, which also happens to turn 90 years old this summer.  Thanks to him, my grandmother's four children, their spouses, eleven of her fourteen grandchildren, and all five of her great grandchildren were together to celebrate.

The whole clan, minus four of the grandchildren.
If you happen to stumble upon one of our family gatherings, pull up a seat.  We promise a good time.

Whenever our family gets together, we have a great time.  But weekends together at the lake are extra special.  The cabin is old and small, you may have to tent it in the yard (if you're lucky you'll get a bed in the loft), the toilet occasionally won't flush and the galley kitchen won't hold more than the cook.

The nonagenarian herself and Uncle C

But you haven't lived until you've eaten blueberry pancakes in shifts at the breakfast table, volleyed in the mud on our badminton court, cooled off afterwards in the lake, fished for crayfish off the dock, pontooned around the lake at sunset and fallen asleep to the sound of the wind in the birch trees.

Cousin A gives G-Bear pointers on driving the boat.

Just being at the cabin sparks the imagination.  It makes you feel like a kid again, and after the long days of play you are guaranteed to go to bed feeling muscles you haven't felt in a while.

Aunt Doo Doo's awesome shrimp boil

This weekend our crowd was so big that we split between three cabins and two pontoons.  The meals are always amazing, thanks to the talents of GG's four daughters.  We had quintessential summer cookout picnics, an amazing low country shrimp boil complete with food piled straight onto brown butcher paper, and a July 4th pontoon parade dinner on the boats.

The village celebrates July 4th with true small town American gusto, and this year was no different.  We ran in the 5 mile village run, ate at the Dairy Queen after the village games, decorated our boats for the pontoon parade and oohed and ahhhed at the fireworks display.

Admiring the show from shore.  Thanks, Uncle Scott!

Perhaps the sweetest moments were watching the newest generation take in the delights of the cabin.  G-Bear and E-Bear splashed with their cousins in the lake and shrieked with glee playing with the older cousins.

The kids invented new games and played outdoors just like kids should in the summertime.  Whenever someone asks GG about her favorite memories at the cabin, she inevitably recounts summertime family memories that are remarkably similar to those we shared this weekend.  In a world that seems to change so fast, it is amazing how little has changed about July weekends at the lake over the past 90 years.

That's part of why we love it so much.


SnoWhite said...

what a fun celebration!

Anonymous said...

Great pictures, wonderful memories. It's fun to be a vicarious mouse in the corner! Thanks, B.

(Bette & E)