Gather Ye Rosebuds…

…While Ye May.

I’m doing just that in the waning days of my 35th summer in this old cabin on Lake Katherine, known up here with a long history as ‘The Queen of the Lakes’ My children own it now, and rightfully so, as my Dad made it possible for Bill and I to buy it in 1982 for them and for our grandkids. We’ve all grown up and grown older here, and while I’m no longer the caretaker, I’m the one to occupy it most as they come and go when time permits. I love the chaos and company when they’re here – and I love the solitude when they’re not.

There are benefits to crowding 80 and being alone. I eat when I’m hungry and sleep when I’m tired. I liken it to working 3rd shift after years of working the 1st – with no schedule or particular reason to go to bed before 2:00 or to get up before 10:00. In between, I spend time at the library, on my computer, knitting and reading. A lot. Sometimes my only decision of the day is white wine or red? Exercise consists of short walks with the black dog that sleeps under my bed each night and trips for essentials to Walmart, Trig’s and Save More. With no TV, I watch football and baseball games with my next door neighbor, Don. Relaxed in a big recliner next to his big recliner, conversation is sporadic and comfortable as it is with friends you’ve known and cared about for years.

The shops downtown are no longer the magnets that once drew me in, other than the iconic Lakeland Variety Store, a real five and dime that was a mandatory stop for my grandkids along with Dan’s for fudge and bags of taffy. While there’s little I need or want anymore, I’m happy that vacationers still fill them all summer, tho I’ve never been able to understand why, with such a short season, they close when the streets are still crowded with people wanting to spend money.

Once Labor Day and Beef a Rama visitors vacate the island town, the streets are virtually deserted.

No longer a need for a bouncer at the entrance to Otto’s,

Even the sweatshirt stores, the only ones to stay open all hours, are dark after dusk – a sure sign that the season has ended. Soon, with snow on the ground, motorcycles will be replaced with snowmobiles, jet skis with ice shanties – and the ebb and flow of the Northwoods perpetuates itself.

I have just two days left to gather my last rosebuds of summer – I’m sharing them now with a doe who comes close to nibble them at night.

On Saturday my kids will be here to rake leaves, take in the pier and sit around a big bonfire before closing the door on another summer.

I’m intrinsically happy wherever I am. But, I love Here most of all.

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The Door Is Open

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I have a yellowed newspaper article taped to my up north refrigerator that reads: “There’s a moment of expectation as you walk into your summer cabin after it’s been closed up for the winter. You open the door and peer in. Did chipmunks sneak in to leave shells under your pillow? (it’s happened). The air is cool and quiet; the linoleum cold underfoot, sand free for maybe the only time this summer. Sun drifts through the kitchen windows past last year’s calendar. There sits the old couch, the driftwood lamp and weather beaten coffee table, welcoming an old friend. You walk out leaving the door open on new summer adventures.”

We’ve had our old cabin that was built in 1940, for thirty two years – with few updates since then. My children and grandkids have come and gone already, but I look forward to their return whenever their work, baseball, football, hockey, volleyball and soccer schedules allow. Friends welcome! In the meantime, I get to spend days with my black shadow, Josie, who will be 16 on her next birthday. I was afraid this might be her last summer to wander the woods and swim, but her new arthritis pills hidden in a gooey marshmallow have given her a lift. Literally. Being stone deaf, she can’t tell me when someone turns into our driveway, and we communicate now with sign language and touch, but she’s still one of the sweetest Labs I’ve had.

Four years after Bill died, Kathie Lodholz Batsch and her husband George, flew up for a short visit. She was head of our alternative ed department where we worked with at-risk high school kids; also a bright accomplished poet. I loved her gentle manner, wisdom and fierce certainty in dealing with our kids who needed a tough advocate in their lives. Sadly, her years were suddenly cut short by a glioblastoma that robbed her of a happy future with her children and George,the love of her life.

Shortly after their visit, she surprised me with this poem and photo she had taken of the door.
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Titled ‘Invitations’, she speaks of our history
here, the strength of my husband, Bill, and the joy
we’ve experienced as we’ve all passed through this
door that leads to the lake.

And this is my corner of our old cabin, where I can
write and think about all the fun and growing up
we’ve shared here with family and friends.
It’s summertime at last!

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