Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Another Memory, For What It's Worth...

I was talking to my husband the other day about childhood memories. Suddenly I remembered that I had said I would post here about more things of my own and I have not done that, so for what it's worth *lol*, here goes...
When I was about 12 years old, my parents bought a bit of land on the Canadian side of Lake St. Clair, just across from our home in St. Clair Shores, MI. My Dad had always wanted his own "retreat" from civilization, where he could go to "get away from it all" ~ and my Mom went along with the idea, thinking how nice it would be to have a place where we could get all the fresh air and sunshine she was always touting as "good for the soul."
Now, don't get me wrong here ~ living where we did, there was more than enough sunshine and fresh air to go around; our neighborhood was, as I've stated before, quite rural and our house was only one of five on the entire block. The road was not paved, so that must give an idea of how often we had any traffic coming through...and the yards were huge! So, there was plenty of room for everybody and I had no complaints. 
But to be in the presence of the lake shore, 24/7...now that was my parents' idea of Heaven on Earth!
Our property was not really directly on the shore of the lake, but on a canal that came inward, about 500 feet in. The canal stretched past us, home to several other cottage-dwellers, and around to a much bigger one, where there were more cottages and "sunshine and fresh air lovers" ~ just like my parents.
All in all, there were about 15-20 cottages in this little hamlet, and my parents, being the social lions that they were, made friends with all of them, lol.
Many of these families hailed from Michigan, just like we did, but there were a few who were actually Canadian...and there was even a family whose Grandparents were from Scotland! Oh, to listen daily to that wonderful brogue...the accent of my own ancestors.
Years later, when we had all grown up, many of these families were such good friends that they were invited to attend family functions even here back home; weddings and birthdays and bar-b-q's were common celebrations and the fun they all had together, you would have thought they were family themselves!
I don't know if it was the cottage atmosphere, where we all went to relax and play on the beach, but there was definitely something magical about that place and the people who stayed there. I don't recall one single incident in all the years we owned this little bit of "sunshine and fresh air" that would qualify as confrontational, angry, depressing or anything else that would come even close to the negative.
Of course, as the years went on, we heard about this one dying or that one being sick ~ and that was always very sad but it was also life ~ but on the whole, there was nothing but friendship and good will.
My Dad started out with a little 16' red runabout, that he would keep in the water at our dock @ the head of our property, and many evenings he and my Mom would take a beer and go out to the middle of the lake to watch the sunset. Or on clear days he would gather the entire family together and we would head out to a spot where the water would be about 4' deep (Lake St. Clair has many shallow places like this, even in the middle of it) and we would swim or water-ski for hours.
I even tried to ski once myself, but I'm afraid I was not too successful ~ I have never been an athlete, I'm afraid, because of my knees...so I mostly sat in the boat and watched for them to "go down."
Other times my sisters and our friends and I would go to the beach and swim in the whitecaps; omygosh, that was SO much fun! For hours and hours, we would let the waves crash upon us, carrying us in to the shore...My Mother would be watching from the window back at the cottage and praying that nobody would swallow too much water, lol, or drown themselves in the craziness of it all. But those days were the most fun and we never wanted them to end. At night, of course, we would all sleep like logs ~ feeling the waves beneath our mattresses as we drifted off to dreamland.
As the years went by, we visited that cottage by the lake so many times, I would not be able to count; sometimes we would stay for one or two days, sometimes my Mom would stay with us kids for weeks and my Dad would commute every evening from work in Detroit, as it was only about an hour's drive away, and then he would be able to stay there all weekend ~ at his favorite place in the world.
My Dad was a sailor at heart; he was in the Merchant Marine during WWII so he was used to being on the water...and to have his own cottage where he could swim and relax was a dream come true for him. To be able to share this all with his family must have made his life complete! Even at home in Michigan, we only lived about a half-mile from the lake, so we were able to go on rides on the water quite often, but our own boat, docked at our own cottage ~ now that, my friends, was the limit!
After the runabout started to wear out, he bought himself a pontoon boat, and it was aptly christened "The Queen." Then, for years, we enjoyed this bit of unusual boating pleasure...so much so that, when they finally had to sell the property that they had loved so much, my Dad could not bear to see it taken from the dock, so it was given to the new owner, who I am sure, probably has destroyed it by now! 
We had that cottage on the canal for at least 30 years, perhaps a bit longer, but Canadian law states that anyone who owns property in Canada may pass it on to his children, but then it reverts back to the Province. Since none of us kids were in a position at that time to keep it up, my parents sold it to a very nice lady who re-furbished it and made it her permanent residence. 
After a couple of years, they went back to see it and it was hardly recognizable ~ she had added an entire second story and re-modeled the inside ~ but it was still beautiful to my Dad. 
Even tho' it was no longer ours, they were pleased to note that it was being taken care of with such tender affection ~ this woman had many friends and there were bar-b-q's held there all the time, lol...just like back in the old days.
So it was good to see that there was still plenty of "sunshine and fresh air" being enjoyed by all ~ and everything else "good for the soul."

No comments: