Summertime, and the livin' is still easy
on a nostalgic trip back to Grindstone Lake in Northern Wisconsin
It's possible some fish jumped when I wasn't looking, but cotton doesn't grow high (or low, or at all) in the northwoods. Pine trees grow tall there, and deep-green fields of corn near the lake had grown very high by the middle of July this year.
The photo below is from a time more than a half-century ago!... but sometimes -- often, in fact -- it really does seem like yesterday to me. The location was my aunt and uncle's one-bedroom summer cabin on the (approximately) south shore of Grindstone Lake, where my fond memories of many easy-livin' summer days at the lake began.
My mother must have been the photographer. My aunt looks like she wasn't too eager to be in the picture.
She has her hair up in pincurls with bobby pins... anybody remember those? (Little did she realize that many years
later, this photo would be displayed as a favorite in at least three homes that I know of!) :o) Though the adults
aren't with us any longer, they'll always be an important part of the memories. The "kids" all look just the same as we
did back then, as long as you limit your viewing of us to this old photo! I'm the one sitting on the
chair, holding the bottle of Dad's Old Fashioned Root Beer, and not looking very happy... probably because I have
never liked having my picture taken ... and/or maybe because my family's
week-long visit to the lake that summer was about to come to an end.
A few years after that photo was taken, my annual "week at the lake" that always ended too soon, became an entire "summer at the lake" every year for a while, after my brother was born and my parents had a lakeside cabin built for our family a short walk (or run) from my aunt and uncle's cabin, on what quickly became a very well-worn path through the woods. The little cousin on the right in the photo grew up to become my "summer buddy" then. As teenagers, we spent a lot of sunny days together on the dock, in the water, in the boats, and on water skis... and playing Canasta, or building models of our dream houses, or going into town to shop on rainy days. Our families ate together for evening meals, with the moms taking turns doing the cooking. Our job was making the desserts and doing the dishes. (Livin' isn't ALWAYS easy at the lake!) There were many families with kids our age living along the lake during those summers, so it was a very busy and a very fun and also a rather noisy place, with boats zooming back and forth all day, every day... really a perfect place for "then". Great memories!
The last time I had been to the lake and my aunt and uncle's cabin (which had been greatly expanded and had become a comfortable year-round home for them by then) was about 25 years ago, when they hosted a big family reunion which was also very busy and very fun and sometimes rather noisy. Their cabin/home isn't there anymore, and neither is the cabin my parents had built. Both have been replaced by large new homes. They're lovely, but they don't mesh with what "the lake" has been to me.
Though some things had changed, the lake was still there this summer, right where I'd last left it. It was as beautiful and as clean and as clear as ever, though less busy and noisy than it used to be "then"... which made it just perfect for "now", when my sister and I decided that a trip back to the lake was long overdue.
Grindstone Lake covers an area of more than 3,100 acres; its maximum depth is 63 ft. The lake bottom next to most of the south shore is smooth rounded rocks, but they are not tiny smooth rocks. They aren't easy or fun to walk on, so boat docks do double-duty, providing a handy way to enter the water a little farther out from the shoreline, where the lake bottom is sand and the water is still very shallow. When I was the little girl in that photo, I could stand in the lake at the end of the dock, and my head was still well above the water level.
Rocks under about two feet of clear water - (photo taken from the dock)
A flower on the edge of the shore, with water and rocks as a backdrop