On Fam’ly Traditions - 2nd third -
“Might as well grab us some food an' some beer...some ice...and some bundles o' wood, an' prob'ly some charcoal....there ain't nothin' better than walleye from right off a grill.
Half o' the coolers at Black Bear Marina were worthless for keepin' things cold,
but if we can buy what I'd like for our fishin'...some crawdads an' minnows... we will.”
“Damn...they've been busy,” my father complained, as we made our way out to the lake. “This was all gravel...and none of these windmills were here back in seventy-five.
I wonder if Ellis - or old Virgie Michel - are still comin' up here to fish.
Both were your age,” he said...grinnin' at Leo...“and you're - more or less - still alive!”
I swear, on that eight mile run to the cabin, there must 've been twenty new signs! “200 hookups, with water and power, and each a short walk to the mall!
3-bedroom condos, with every convenience. Jet skis! Ski boats! Pontoons!
Clean sandy beaches with bathrooms and showers, and lifeguards from Springtime to Fall.
“26 acres of crystal clear water --- with 21 species of fish --- Big Bass Marina has all that an angler could need to assure a great catch,
And Boulder Lake Inn - with a pool and three tennis courts - open to only our guests - offers cuisine from our world renowned chef...with a quality wine list to match.”
But what we were seeing was merely a warm up for what lay in store for us three, when, reaching the gate, we were stunned to discover the “progress” we happened on next.
The huge, gaudy entry - complete with a guardhouse - had prices for “extras” displayed: “Twenty for Wi-Fi...a dollar per email...and ten for - unlimited text.
“Bungalows starting at three hundred dollars - per weekday...weekends are five...and cable, with fifty-eight stations...including a couple with movies...is ten.”
Knowing remaining - “original” - cabins...like ours...were still privately owned,
the guard understood that the fam'lies who owned them were not to be charged to get in.
Dad showed the ranger his photo-ID, and, after some checking, he lifted the gate. Driving in slowly, we shuddered to see what a decade of - “progress” - can do.
Our cabin...now 50 to 60 years old, by some would have likely been burned, showing the typical signs of neglect while surrounded by homes that were new!
Only a couple of those that had been there for forty plus years were still standing. The rest were all gone, with their lots, thanks to “progress” - in their way of thinking - improved,
With water and sewer included with each - a choice between propane and gas - and deepened...by tearing out trees...and...by dredging...their shoreline strategically moved.
We paused at the entry that led to the shack where for so many years they'd vacationed, but now - unmaintained - for a span of ten years...the driveway was tough to discern.
I saw in my father's and great-granddad's eyes their contempt for their signs of neglect, while all of us dreaded the so called “improvements” that lay but around the next turn!
“Hard to believe that the dock is still standin’!” my Dad was the first one to speak. “It's gotta be all rotted out,” he went on, “and I’m sure we’ll be beachin' the boat.
What'da'ya' say we just call it a day? We'll find an old movie to watch,
and, first thing tomorrow, we’ll hit the marina an' see if ol' “TRIO” 'll float.”
Tracin' the faint pair o’ lines up the lane - and stoppin’ about twenty feet out,
“Ain't hard to tell,” Leo quipped, “why the newbies are tearin' these dinosaurs down!”
Then, wadin' through belly-deep-weeds to a porch that was rotten and peppered with mold, “I'm prayin'' that somehow them suckers ain't done to the lake what they did to the town!”
Twirling the key, as he unlocked the door, it seemed like I’d - beaten the odds,
As though I'd surmounted the challenge of reaching a goal that had grown in my mind.
The seed of that goal had been planted the day that I - first pulled a fish from a lake - and suddenly I saw what it was that - the “TRIO” - had so often come here to find.
The door would require a pretty stiff kick, then - crossin’ his fingers - Dad tested the light. A stickler for mindin' his bills - when it lit...we were pleased that the cabin's were paid.
And...utilized only in sultry Julys...we'd never had need for a tank of LP,
but cookin' with wood was what Father preferred for the 5 a.m. breakfasts he made.
With no signs disputing the cabin had - somehow - escaped having ever been breached, and given the numerous contacts concerning our...“very best lot on the cove”,
We were surprised that the doors were still locked, and that no one had broken a window, then Dad said...“I'm hopin' these logs 've been dried”...as he glanced at the dusty old stove.
Grabbing the blankets from off of the beds, I ducked out the sliding glass door to the deck, shook them as hard as I could, then admitted, “These blankets 'll need to be laundered.”
Father and Leo were scanning the cabin, and - given the looks on their faces -
both second-guessing their mutual decisions to pass on the chances they'd squandered.
Peeling three beers from the twelve in the cooler, my Dad took a seat at the table, so Leo and I grabbed another two chairs and relieved him of two of those three.
It tickled my innards to ponder the fact that the last time we'd come here to fish was the first time we'd done so as - four generations - with the newest, of course - being me!
Thanks for sticking with me - now you need to go to part 3 - the poem's wonderful ending...
Copyright © Mark Stellinga | Year Posted 2021