Imagine a lake in the middle of nowhere. Now image a very basic cabin situated a mere 20 feet from the edge of that lake. There is only one other cabin on your side of the lake and it is usually not occupied. The dirt road that takes you to this cabin is about a mile long, over some small hills, across a stream all of it through a forest of pines. The road is so narrow that in most places only can car can get by.
The lake is sometimes prone to flooding, so the cabin sits on stilts – a good 20 feet off the ground. There are only 3 rooms and the bathroom. Two of the rooms are for sleeping and are furnished in such a way that between the 2 rooms, 9 people can sleep in there. The other room is the kitchen/dining/living room, which can sleep an additional 4 people. There is a TV set in the living room – but the only stations that work are the basic NBC/ABC/CBS – and they all come in fuzzy. There is an Atari hooked up, but there are only 3 games. There are puzzles, cards and board games stacked up in a corner of the room. The whole cabin – which is shaped in a near perfect square – has a solid bank of windows starting about 3 feet from the floor, stretching all the way up to the ceiling, allowing for lots and lots of light.
Stored underneath the cabin are a series of 2-, 3- and 4-wheelers and an assortment of boats: bass, row and simple motor boats. There is also an old 50-gallon oil barrel that has been turned on its side, given legs and sawn in half, that now functions as a very large grill. Several yards away, off by the road and the edge of the woods, there is a table with a water fountain where fish are cleaned and prepared for dinner.
One summer, the lake become infested with lily pads – lily pads that covered the face of the lake almost to the point of being able to walk upon them to cross the lake. To allow for boat traffic, there were paths of lily pads that were cleared – you could see them crisscrossing all over the lake. Two summers later the are all gone. Cyprus trees are sprinkled all throughout the lake, providing ample surfaces to climb and jump, provided you can swim out to them and you can avoid all the water snakes.
This is my most favorite summertime place. It exists near a little town in northern Louisiana, up near the Arkansas border. It doesn’t have a formal name, but we always referred to it as “the Camp”. It was a place that my Uncle Ben used to own (he sold it a few years ago). I have such fond memories of that place. My family (Mom, Dad and sister Kris), my Uncle’s family (Uncle Ben, Aunt Yvonne and cousins Mike, Gary and Meredith) along with my Grandmother, Meme and my Great-Grandmother Mem-maw all crammed up there for a few days. We would take out the bikes and drive up and down the mile long road. We would go fishing, swimming, skiing and tubing. We would also get sunburned, and get so many mosquito bites that I swear we looked like we had the mumps! It was awesome!
I’m not sure what prompted that memory except that the heat and humidity I’ve been experiencing up here in Northern Illinois kind reminds me of the sweltering summer days spent up in the Camp.