Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Lake of the Spirit

The Dakota Sioux called it "Minnewaukon" or "Lake of the Spirit.."  People say it heals the body--I say, it heals the soul.  Spirit Lake is a place I have always gone to "soothe my soul".  As a teenager and young adult, when my world wasn't what I wanted it to be, the lake was the place I wanted to be to heal.  Everywhere I go, there are memories of who I used to be. On the road into town I drive past the little park where my grandparents took us camping and I caught my first fish. The houses of old friends greet me when I get there. And no matter where I am in the lakes area, memories of my dad are there.

Every year Dad took my sisters and I on vacation for two weeks and we always went to the same little family owned resort.  We always left town early on Sunday, even though we couldn't check into the cottage until afternoon. My sisters and I always had our swimsuit on under our clothes so we could jump in the lake as soon as we got there. The drive always seemed to take forever--I knew how long it was from every landmark on the way.  Two hours from home; an hour and fifteen minutes  from the turn in Algona; the half-way point was Cylinder. Spencer meant we were there--even though it was another 15 minutes or so to the resort. Driving past Arnold's Park created even more excitement. What night would we go. Who would ride the old wooden roller coaster?

Finally, we would get to the resort and throw our clothes on the beach and race into the water.  We'd swim until Dad whistled to come up and unload the car.  Grandma packed everything for Dad and we always laughed, wondering what she was thinking when she sent some of it. But you know what?  We always seemed to use it all!

There were few rules when we vacationed with Dad. We had to pick up the cabin and sweep out the sand every day. Hang up the wet clothes out on the line and be in the cabin once the light went out on the trampolines. Oh, and we each had to cook one night and the others had to do the dishes.  I don't remember anything I cooked, I just know that no one could fix tuna and noodles other than my youngest sister. It was all she knew other than peanut butter sandwiches.

We grew up and the vacations to the lakes stopped when I went to college. There would still be weekend trips to friends who lived in town, but it just wasn't the same.

We bought our trailer two years after my dad passed away from cancer. It was hard for me the first couple of years--I often cried when we ended up in a memory place. Just too many memories and I missed him so much.  Dad would love the resort and I often imagine him walking down the road visiting everyone or sitting on the beach with his great-grandkids.  I see him in front of the trailer at night enjoying a campfire and the sunset.  Sandbar is his kind of place. And for me, he is the spirit...

11 comments:

  1. What a beautiful memory! I really liked the details in the 2nd paragraph. I could relate to the "always." My family did a lot of the same things.

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  2. Thank you for sharing your memories. I love the bold always. The last paragraph was touching.

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  3. I loved every bit. The "memories of who I used to be" sets the tone well, & you had us travel through the time, just as you were. It sounds like it will be a special place for years to come, too. Those final two sentences are terrific.

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  4. Your second paragraph where you describe the distance between the landmarks really stuck with me. I could feel the anticipation and could imagine how you must have felt as a kid. I could also feel how much you miss your dad. Very lovely, Deb.

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  5. "As a teenager and young adult, when my world wasn't what I wanted it to be, the lake was the place I wanted to be to heal." I hope we all had a place like that at that time in our lives. I hope all kids do still, but I'm sure some don't.
    Thanks for sharing the special memories. Very touching.

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  6. What an evocative piece. I really enjoyed reading this. I gained a genuine sense of connectedness. The Australian Aborigines call it 'spirit of place' Thank you for taking us with you...

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  7. I loved the traditions: "we always..." They seem to really cement a memory. Thank you for sharing this place and time.

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  8. Thank you for your sharing your memory! I felt like I was there waiting to go there. I liked the "always" and the way you knew exactly how long it took to get there from each place. You have great memories from time with your dad. Store them in your heart. I could tell that's where this came from. Appreciated this. Keep slicing!

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  9. I agree with Alan, I liked how you began with the name of the place which identified a spirit but then your story and memories really named the spirits and meaning of place for you.

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  10. Your post spoke to me and it looks like many others as well. Your father gave you such a gift to remember. That gift is the part of your father that will never be gone.
    I loved the part about you knowing how far away you were by the landmarks you were watching for. I pictured you staring out the window for each of those landmarks and felt your anticipation as you got closer. Great read.

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  11. You remember a lot about these moments--you are very fortunate to have had memories like this. I liked how you recounted the way to the lake. I guess everyone has their own Spirit Lake. Something to think about--thanks.

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