Well, it’s Friday night and the house is quiet. It’s just Bear (my 2-year-old Black Lab.. ) and me at home. All summer long, Friday nights meant packing the car and heading to Indiana for a weekend on Lake James. But this weekend, we have plans so our trip to the lake will be a short one on Sunday. As I am sitting here thinking of how different this night is than the Fridays of the last few months, I can’t help but think about why I go there most weekends.
A main reason I go there is that I grew up there. In many ways, it is just as much my home as here, where I live and work. My Dad started going to Lake James as a kid when he would go camping at Pokagon State Park with his parents. Later, relatives bought a cottage on the lake and that is where I first visited. I was just a few weeks old. At two, my parents bought a summer place there and they retired there in the 1990’s (a longtime dream of theirs). Basically I have so many memories of family and fun that happened around that lake.
An early memory I have is of my parents going out fishing when my brothers and I were very young. They brought all three of us along with them. They spread a blanket on the bottom of the boat and we would play there (with life jackets of course) and get to eat graham crackers (which we all loved). On those occasions they were blue gill fishing which usually meant fishing with worms and a bobber. I remember watching my dad bait the hook and cast the line out into the lake. Then we would wait for the bobber to go under. When he caught a fish he would always let us “touch the tail”. Then if it was a “keeper” he would toss it in a bucket of water to take home to clean for dinner. It’s surprising, that after all of these years, that memory is so vivid.
Also, when I was young my two brother’s and I would go off in our fishing boat with the little 5 horse motor and dock the boat by Lakeside Grocery and walk in (in our bare feet no less!) and buy a Fudgesicle or a Drumstick. Then it was back to the boat and riding around the lakes. Sometimes we would stop and swim, and sometimes my brothers would net turtles that we would put in a bucket to bring back to show Mom and Dad. Anyway, we were often gone from morning til evening. Our parents generally knew where we were but we were free to roam the lake. As a parent now, in the age of cell phones and all the news about things that can go wrong, I am amazed at the freedom I had. In many ways, I am disappointed that the world wasn’t like that when I raised my children.