Nostalgia

I'm exhausted when my head hits the pillow. It's a strange place, but the fact that we've been driving for two days to get here, the itty child didn't sleep well at the hotel the night before and we've spent a couple hours sweeping and making order before calling it a night work cooperatively to make sleep a very real possibility. Then, raindrops on the roof above us work their magic and I'm off to dreamland for the next several hours.

Or was it longer? Our family vacation this year took us to upstate New York where a summer cottage that's been in my husband's family for nearly a century rests on the shores of Waneta Lake. I'd never been there, nor had the itty child. But the rest of our road trip clan -- my husband and both of his parents -- had been there many, many times. Later, my sister-in-law and her toddler son would join us. My husband, his sister and their father all have memories of the cottage going back to when they were toddlers. It's a place filled with memories, stories and everything you need to make more of both. It was one of those places that had me filled with nostalgia even though I was basically a stranger to it. There was definitely a sense of dreamland in play during the time we spent there.

After the rain had so kindly sang me to sleep, I awaken the next morning to a fresh breeze and sunshine. We make our way down the steep stairs from our sleeping quarters to the kitchen to procure coffee loaded with brown sugar and cream. Coffee in hand, we go out to the screened porch where a swinging hammock, a couple of rocking chairs and the table where we would share all of our meals await us. The sun casts a speckled carpet of spots through the trees along the ground while the lake glitters before us, sometimes casting such a sparkling reflection that one has to shade eyes to be able to look out over the water. Before long, the itty child is no longer satisfied to explore the confines of the porch and it's time to wander out to the backyard and the dock. A small toy fishing pole with an orange fish attached to it becomes the object of fascination for the morning and my husband and the itty child stand at the end of the dock, each with their own fishing pole, and test the waters. At one point, I look out and they are standing side by side, poles in hand, in identical positions. I smile.

It isn't until after lunch and a morning of various activities that could be labeled "fishing", but probably don't quite live up to the title that swim suits are found. Encouragement for the itty child is tossed like breadcrumbs to get her to wade into the water. This works until chilly water reaches her tummy and then she quickly entertains herself by attempting to fill every empty vessel she can find in and around the cottage with water. This continues for some time, which allows the opportunity for some combination of wading and swimming in the lake for the adults to occur. At one point, I'm transfixed by the sight of my husband wading gently out into the lake with his hands loosely interwoven behind his back. It's like he's not really there or, rather, like he's not really now. It is like watching someone stroll into their past. Maybe that's exactly what I am watching. I'm glad I glimpsed it.

The cottage is a place of traditions, memories and family bonding. To that end, meals are shared and preparation often involves a good many of the cottage's occupants. There is what is lovingly referred to as "lake food", which involves grilling burgers, hot dogs or the like. This type of meal happens every two or three days. Being August, we also include a fair bit of locally available sweet corn. Here's where I get a chance to share one of my own summer traditions. Early on, the itty child and I prepped about a dozen ears for grilling by removing most, but not all, of the husks and soaking them in water for several hours. Then Dad took over and grilled them on a hot charcoal fire and we had hot, delicious sweet corn alongside our grilled burgers that night. Lake food is definitely a tradition worth savoring and blending grilled corn into it just makes it all the sweeter. It's all part of how a strange place like the cottage quickly becomes a home filled with nostalgia and love.

Comments

How lovely. In the rush to try to catch up on chores left behind while we were on vacation, reading this makes me pause, take a relaxing breath, and remember the peace. Thank you.

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