the cabin…

i made plans to run away for the week with my mom…a week, just her and i, no cell phones, no computers, no demands….it sounded blissful. the reality was even better. the reality of just over a week with nothing but my mom and i in the middle of nowhere with no demands, schedules, or requirements was perfect…it was lovely…it was peaceful…it was paradise. now that’s not to say we didn’t aspire to do things while there. we most certainly did. first thing in the morning we rose and started the coffee. this was followed by a run on the beach which was followed by drinking the fresh coffee. and then….then! that’s when things really started happening in our days. we got back in our beds and drank the coffee while talking of everything and nothing. eventually the pup would look at us longingly (for she had discovered just what a heavenly place she was in) and want to go for her swim lessons. so out we paddled in the kayaks each of us making sure to keep her between our boats and out she walked more and more until she was swimming. after that we’d take a bigger boat that fit us 3 out to the islands and then back to sun awhile. and there we would lay and talk…..the dog? well she loved being between us in the sun for over an hour. no really, she did. mom would lay out a towel for her to lay on, i would set up her beach umbrella and she would immediately lay down and watch the waves hit the beach content just to be for hours….yeah, you could pretty much say she was the perfect companion for us. after a while we’d get hungry and rustle up some food maybe even a beer if the occasion called for it (it usually did) and then in for some reading, napping, more reading and then a few cards games with tea and dessert before bed. yes, yes, i know you are asking yourselves if we really did all of those things in such a short span of time and everyday…it was tough but we persevered. but that is what was majestic about where we were…this magical place called the cabin. that’s what you do there. what is this place? well this place is the stuff of our childhoods. not just my mine but my mother’s as well. whole periods of our lives where we learned how to just be…a skill that i’m sad to report i often forget when life gets really busy. for me the cabin meant summers with my grandfather and learning so many things that i now understand as an adult. somehow he knew that i didn’t need to understand these things then; that when i was a kid i only needed to hear it and retain it so that someday it would come back to me when i needed it. for me it had been 18 years since going back and this was my journey….

we talked aimlessly, excitedly from pembroke to chapeau. about how things have changed or could have changed or what had changed. on and on as we drove. and then we drove over the river and past chapeau to the dead end. and so like in a movie the little turn signal came on and we turned left. left onto the gravel road and left onto so many years of memories. finally here was something that we could hold onto and remember as remaining the same. and with that left turn we fell quiet. it was almost as if neither one of us dared to talk, to break that peacefulness of remembrance and a time lost. the trees were waving in the soft breeze that always pushed through; waving at us beckoning and urging us onward, toward the cabin. THE cabin. the silence was broken coming into the last small town before we were alone in the woods only so we could comment on how little it had changed. the little grocer where you got gas for boats had closed but still stood and across the street was the town’s only little church. a testament to the visitors who bought their houses here from the states and came up to vacation only to need a house of worship and perhaps gather to meet and gossip about goings on.

the freedom. the feeling. the gravel road. as we got nearer and near to the cabin it felt like the road was coming alive under the wheels. we seemed to be heading faster and faster towards that little lane tucked just in between the trees. and suddenly we were in the driveway, the cabin barely visible through the trees. still the same brown with vivd red trim. we pulled to a stop in front of it, the memories flooding back into my mind and flooding my eyes with tears. to be here was sacred beyond all measure and touched more of me than anything else. all i could think was, “oh papa.”

we got out and grabbed the first bags of groceries and headed for the door. walking up the porch the roof seemed shorter but my mind was quickly occupied with that smell of forests and pinetrees and fires and wool blankets and thousands of other memories. we moved quickly then, unpacking, turning on breakers and water, changing our clothes and stripping off the last of the travel clothes for new clothes-river clothes. shorts for the water and closed toed shoes. i opened two beers touched mine to my mother’s briefly and we smiled as we both walked to the river.

down we walked. the porch and steps half the size it used to be. down we dropped 4 times. some steps missing and others recently fortified with the addition of extra boards until at last our feet hit the sand. straight down to the water’s edge and straight out in the water. the dog accompanying us and getting her first taste of swimming. out and out we walked allowing the dog to learn and adapt to the waves and the water. and then I turned inward and headed for land, wanting to sink my toes in the dark red sand hot with iron. until at last I looked back and it was only my mom and her dog in the water with the setting sun framing them; capturing what quickly became the first of many new memories made.

we found ourselves making a brief dinner and readying the cards for cribbage. once the dishes were done and the water was on for tea we sat down to play. after it was lights out for the night. but even as i was settling into sleep i couldn’t stop my eyes filling with tears for what seemed like the umpteenth time that day. every moment of remembering caused me to spring a leak so to speak. very much like the song lyric, “every turn a memory.” it was then as i sat watching the last of sunset, reliving all the memories that i realized the roof and stairs and yard of the cabin hadn’t changed. the cabin truly was a place untouched by time. nope, the cabin hadn’t changed at all, but i did.

the first morning we woke up to the cool temperatures that always marked the beginning of a day or the start of evening at the cabin. just enough chill that i could feel it on my nose and burrow down deeper under the blankets. just enough to take me to back to remember that you got up and got dressed immediately because it was too cold to remain in pajamas for breakfast. our days from there on out were the same. boats, water, dog, swimming, walking, running, reading, napping, sleeping, and so on. everyday for me was fun and perfect. not fun and perfect for the great, eventful things we did (because let’s face it we really weren’t too eventful) but rather for the time i got to spend with my mom. and ok, the spending time getting to know my mom’s dog was fun too….i only add this here to keep myself honest and so when my mom reads it she will know i was honest! appy (the pup) is a force to be reckoned with if she doesn’t like you but once she does she’s really easy to fall for! but these were our days just enjoying a land forgotten and each other. and then towards the end of the week came an extra bonus. i got to see my grandmother and cousin and enjoy the cabin with them too. and have such a memorable game of canasta (nona- canaaaaaaasta!) that was likely ever played at the cabin….and that’s saying something considering how  many times that game was probably played at the cabin. i’ve found it is always a joy to learn and get to know my grandmother now at this age. now that i’m older i see, understand, and get to enjoy so much more of who she is as a woman..then again i do the same with my mother but probably not as much because she’s my mom and such a huge part of what i am already. but the days wore on and all too soon our time was up.

and as i had to pack my things to head home i realized that things have changed at the cabin. the water has algae, there are new cabins popping up along the beach, things moved about in the closets, beds rearranged, the islands are now owned…it isn’t completely unchanged but it is still just as perfect a place as ever for memories old and new. and for enjoying solitude and companionship all at the same time…and yes its possible but only in places like the cabin. the cabin is still as it had always remained, right down to the wool blankets and melamine dishes, a part of me.

you can see her legs through the water in this picture as she's swimming...love it!!

you can see her legs through the water in this picture as she’s swimming…love it!!

appy and mom not quite in swimming territory yet

appy and mom not quite in swimming territory yet

just one of the islands a quick row from the house

just one of the islands a quick row from the house

appy is sitting there thinking, "and i shall forevermore call this island appyland"

appy is sitting there thinking, “and i shall forevermore call this island appyland”

a boat, a river, and dog ready to go...what more could a girl ask for?!

a boat, a river, and dog ready to go…what more could a girl ask for?!

appy laying out after her swim lessons..under her umbrella and on her towel of course!

appy laying out after her swim lessons..under her umbrella and on her towel of course!

what will i do i wonder…

my cousin nona recently came for a visit. she’s delightful and amazing and impressive…and i’m not sure how much of that she realizes just yet. nona’s brother happens to be brilliant as well. he’s got a mind that while i understand none of it i am in awe of it. they’re both brilliant. it was always fairly obvious how successful he would be. while nona, well i don’t know that we were ever sure what she would do or become when she grew up. there was always an amazing personality from her but no real clear path. and now that she’s grown and graduated from college….well there’s still no real clear path. but THAT is what makes it amazing. her brother we watched blossom into a genius just as we always knew he would. and it’s awesome that he did exactly that. and now with nona i’m enchanted. we don’t know what she will do but it will be fun and exciting watching her get there!

it’s kind of like my brother. he’s brilliant in mind but in a way that doesn’t necessarily have a set path or direction but you know he’s going somewhere. he’s constantly learning, wondering, reading, evolving. sometimes i feel like the black sheep of the family. i had no direction and stumbled into my path by coincidence and luck. yes, i stayed with it because i enjoyed it and happened to be good at it but i’m not quite like my counterparts.

so anyways, there i was planning an itinerary for my cousin and my trip with my mom to see what we could squeeze in and how…i’m a bit fanatical about planning….i suppose if you ever saw my father’s color-coded chart for activities for the grandchildren while they visit you’d understand where i get it from. anyways, the itinerary went something like this:

Saturday: get Nona and head home

Sunday: pack picnic then Blue Ridge Vineyard for picnic and wine

Monday: afternoon Tea
Tuesday: lazy day
Wednesday: despicable me movie then crawfish boil
Thursday: dinner and fireworks
Friday: take Nona to airport, head back for MOST AWESOMEST TRIP EVER with my AMAZING AND WONDERFUL MOM!!! possibly…stop somewhere for the night.
Saturday: wake up and make it to cabin for the day if it’s not too stressful and it suits our mood
Sunday: wake up and see what tickles our fancy
Monday: wake up and try out being footloose and fancy free
Tuesday: wake up and putz around
Wednesday: wake up and see what’s hanging
Thursday: wake up and practice being bums
Friday: wake up and straighten house…ok maybe just think about it and anxiously await my grandmother and cousin
Saturday: wake up and attempt to lure my mom and grandmother into afternoon beers and repeat
Sunday: wake up and be super bummed that i’ll be leaving but be very glad and thankful for the time away

now…obviously it looks like the most perfect of schedule right? yeah, i know. i was thinking that too when i made it. and then i started thinking about how wonderful it would be to see my grandmother and how it was great that she was coming up. and i had to stop. and suddenly i was running for a calendar. and sure enough, the day before i leave, the day after my grandmother arrives is the anniversary of my grandfather’s passing. i haven’t been with my mom and grandmother around this time of year since that year. not necessarily by intention, although it could have been part of my subconscious keeping me away. it’s been a great many years. and so i had to think about how long has it been since he passed away. and i remembered, or thought i did. doubt was creeping in. did i have the year right. the day i’ll never forget but the year. so i started thinking and counting and worrying. does it make me a bad granddaughter that i wasn’t 100% sure of how long he has been gone? it is no less a loss to me even if i can’t remember how many years. it doesn’t make Christmas any easier when i hear greensleeves or for that matter a store playing Christmas music before or on thanksgiving as i start to laugh while crying and quickly leaving before i end up embarrassing myself. my grandfather always said no Christmas music before after thanksgiving dinner. but ohhh as i got older the times i would catch him with the radio on or a tape in. he always said he was just “getting ready” upon being caught….mmm hmm sure papa!

so there i was 99% sure i remembered the year but still wondering. so i went internet searching just for peace of mind and confirmation…because well the internet has everything on it in the world right? i’m sure i could find my husband’s inseam if i searched for it. and surprisingly…it wasn’t readily available to find. but i DID stumble across this about my great grandfather (revised slightly):

….He is one of the young and capable professional men of Huron County, who is successfully engaged in the practice of his profession at Norwalk, with offices in the Citizens Bank Building. He was born in Ohio and his boyhood  was spent there as he attended the public schools. He graduated from University in 1912, and in 1918 received the degree of Doctor of Medicine. His interne work was completed at University Hospital, and he also took graduate work at Children’s Hospital, Philadelphia, and Flower Hospital, New York City. He is an active member of the Huron County Medical Society, Ohio State Medical Society, and American Medical Association. He also belongs to the Ohio State Homeopathic Society, and American Institute of Homeopathy. He is affiliated with University Lodge; Huron Chapter; Norwalk Council; Norwalk Commandery; Toledo Consistory; Zenobia Temple; B. P. O. Elks. He also belongs to Catawba Cliffs Beach Club, Norwalk Country Club, Kiwanis Club and University Club of Cleveland, and Phi Alpha Gamma fraternity. He is president of the Norwalk Chapter of Ohio Lake Erie Island District Association.

My great grandfather did so many things. And yet in reading it, the parallels between how many things he did, invested in, and gave his time for were mirrored by the things my grandfather, his son, had done as well. it’s just…wow. it’s easy to see how some of those things would have rubbed off on my grandfather. it’s the examples set for us right? but as i stared at these remarkable things on paper and remembered my grandfather’s remarkable service, dedication, drive, and teachings i felt lacking. i feel lacking. what have i done like this? how have i even come close to this? yes, i suppose you could look at it that this is the measure of their whole lives that i am reading/remembering and i’m in my 30’s…but what have i done thus far? this is mostly a rhetorical question. just me wondering out loud. of all 4 of  us grandchildren it seems as though all but me are so like him. one cousin is teaching, one cousin has a consistently active voice, and my own brother is following a never-ending road of learning. so again, what have i done or will i do? perhaps its harder to look at one own’s self as clearly but i tried to think what i have done that would have mirrored some of my grandfather’s (and great grandfather’s) achievements and thought of nothing.

perhaps its time that i dive in. i dive in with so many other things (relationships, career) but not on changing, growing. which is yet another way i differ from my grandfather. he rarely dove in. but carefully weighed his options and came to sound, researched, and educated decisions. i just leap, recklessly into the unknown. ohhh look a dark abyss…here i go! i’m not entirely sure what i have done is wrong. it has gotten me certain places and certain things i wouldn’t dare change but i think as i go forward i’m going to ask myself what will i do…and start applying my logic of leaping before i look to a few more things that contribute to the greater good. what that is yet i don’t know. but stay tuned and perhaps by next year at this time i’ll have an update…