I spend the winter months praying for summer to come quickly. Spring is beautiful here, but it’s merely a pleasant stop on the way to a more satisfying destination. I watch the trees turn green, white blooms float to the pavement, and I start counting down the days until I can take that first dive into the waves only yards from my door.
As always I am impatient and before the chill has left the water completely, I’m running down those weathered planks at full speed, bracing myself for the shock.
Summer weekends begin and end in the water. Before the sleep can be rubbed from our eyes, Hannah and I are shoveling down breakfast and tugging on swimsuits. She gets coated with sunscreen, dancing impatiently from foot to foot, chattering about jumping off the tall platform.
“I can do it all by myself, mom. I can swim without a lifejacket too! Please, can I?”
From the moment she steps outside, she turns as dark as an Indian. It’s in her blood, in fact. Dark brown eyes, brown hair and brown skin with just a hint of her white bottom peeking from the edges of her swimsuit – the opposite of her naturally fair mother, who has to work extra hard to become nothing more than golden and still burns her nose every other weekend.
Appearances notwithstanding, she’s a summer child just like I was – pouting as the sunset signals it’s time to go home and marching, red eyed and exhausted, up the hill with water dripping from her hair, wet feet squeaking loudly in rubber flip-flops. Stomping up the back stairs and onto the porch, she strips down and hangs her suit over the tall chair, our towels immediately following. Then, with a sudden burst of energy she runs into the house, the white parts of her skin glowing like another swimsuit and, giggling, announces to the household that she’s naked.
After bath and dinner, bed time comes quickly. She’s asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow and, though I no longer run bare assed and giggling through the kitchen (at least when people are home), I copy her night routine down to the open mouthed breathing. The sun can be draining, no matter your age.
And we do it all again the next day.
Instead of doing cannon ball after cannon ball and bouncing up and down on a tube full of other children, I spend as much time as possible floating on a lounger. But now I’m the voice that controls the mayhem rather than the one behind it. Chasing down reluctant children to apply more sunscreen, diving in to rescue this or that float, shooing away the stupid goose, toting coolers and arranging towels, docking boats and giving Jet Ski rides – that’s what I traded (most of) my cannon balls for. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
All grown up, my family and friends surround me like aptly placed buoys, clutching cold beers in colorful koozies. Their children run with mine and we laugh, reminded of old feuds and excitements that are being played out all over again, right before our eyes.
I’ve spent every summer since the age of two on this lake, in this little cove. It’s where I learned to swim, with an old fashioned belt around my waist. It’s where I held my first sparkler on the Fourth of July and where I nearly drowned learning to ski. It’s where I lost my best friend in the world and where I sat and cried every evening, watching the waves wash up on shore, until I found the courage to keep going without him. It’s where I celebrated every single birthday until the age of 16, when I became too cool to have parties.
I’m happy that I get to watch Hannah grow up walking the same banks, making similar but new memories with her generation of our family. I’m happy every time we’re gathered around the gazebo with our Papa, watching him smile and pick on her the way he’s always done, with every grandchild. I feel lucky that I have a place that’s so special to me and I hope that, twenty years from now, she’ll be looking back, just like this, and feeling lucky too.
1 week ago