The view from my uncle's dock.
When I was a year old, my parents started accompanying my aunt and uncle on a yearly summer vacation to this peaceful spot, located on a narrow channel at one end of an 8-mile long lake. There are pictures documenting their youth- beards, 60's and 70's hairstyles, bandanas and moo-moos (appropriate attire for coming and going from the outdoor shower). The cabin had three small rooms and a narrow, screened-in porch with a long table built into the side. There was an outhouse out back. There was a dock and boat to fish from and a diving board jutting out from a large rock in front of the cabin, held up by a tire that was painted with the word "Retired".
Then came my four siblings and my aunt and uncle's own two children. Before we knew it the tiny, three-room cabin was bursting with four adults and seven kids (who could be found littering the floor in sleeping bags each night). We didn't care where we slept. We were in Canada. It had become our very favorite place to be. The night before our yearly trip, none of us could sleep for our excitement. This actually worked out pretty well, because after our parents roused us up at 3 or 4am to leave, we promptly fell back asleep in the station wagon or van, sleeping much of the way. We had saved our allowance for weeks to buy huge freeze pops, Nerds and penny candy at the store at the end of the lake where they also sold a few basic groceries and gas for the boats.
Miriam and Sadie on the dock and in the water where I played as a girl.
We fished, swam, explored the pine-filled forest behind the cabin, learned to water ski, went for day trips with picnic lunches to islands, swam across the little channel and down to the big rock. We fed chipmunks un-popped pop corn from our hands and sometimes feet, roasted marshmallows, laid on the dock to warm ourselves and swatted the mosquitoes at dusk. We went exploring by boat, hunting for that perfect piece of driftwood, picking water lilies and spotting turtles sunning themselves on logs. We played games like Hand and Foot, Monopoly and Rook and for several years, held talent shows in the evening (the limited TV channels were often in French).
Sadie feeding a chipmunk.
My uncle's parents eventually added on a large living room to the cabin, but it always maintained it's cozy feel. I can so clearly remember waking up in the kitchen (where I often slept) to the sound of boats just outside, passing through the channel to get gas, the smell of coffee and my mom and aunt puttering in the sink and on counter tops, getting out cereal, shoofly pie and funny cake for breakfast. When my dad and uncle had a successful early morning fishing trip, we'd also eat fish for breakfast- bass, walleye and northern pike. The lake is a quiet one, with much of the land owned by the government, keeping it from becoming busy and over-built.
Jamey relaxing in the morning.
I'm sharing all this with you because last week, I took my children to this wonderful, memory-filled place. Jamey and I had taken Sam when he was one, but hadn't been for the past 8 years because lodging space (as you can imagine) was in short supply since all 7 children are now married and almost all have kids of their own. Last year, my mom and sister discovered a place on the opposite end of the lake that could accommodate all of us. And, yes. It was hard to sleep the night before.
Sadie and Sam
We took up five cottages, us 12 adults and 11 kids (ages 9, 7, 6, 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 3-weeks old and -4 weeks old). My aunt and uncle, their two children and spouses and four grandchildren were up the same week at the other end of the lake and we visited back and forth by boat, reminiscing and watching our children love the lake as we do.
Watching my kids swim in the water, fish, buy (now) 5-cent candy, and feed the chippies was almost too much for me. We had a glorious week and it is an understatement to say it was hard for me to leave. At two separate times, both Sam and Sadie asked me if we could live there. I remember feeling the same way.
It drives home the fact that kids don't need expensive vacations with TVs, video games, and board walks. They need peace, quiet, time to explore God's creation, and rest in the love and care of their extended family.
This post is dedicated to my uncle who, over the years, has proven his incredibly generous and giving spirit by baiting countless hooks for us kids, for taking us water skiing and tubing whenever we asked, for being vigilant when it came to watching us by the water, and for inviting us along every year. Thank you, Uncle Garry. Pin It