I Should Be Here

I Should Be Here

This has been a mostly good summer, even if it isn’t quite the summer I expected earlier this year.  Still, it hasn’t been disappointing.

However, as the summer comes to an end, I have been thinking more and more about being at the lake.  I have a beautiful piece of land on a small clear lake to enjoy and here I sit.  An uncle and cousin are there now, just down the road at their cabin.

I am thinking back — way back — to when I was quite young.  We would spend the last week or two of August at the lake.  Days were still quite nice and the nights brought a comfortable chill to the cabin.   It was a very cozy place.  Wool blankets, thick cotton sheets, and plentiful food fit the late summer days.  The scent of coffee, baking, and roasting always lingered there.

I don’t know why, but we seemed to undertake serious meals in the simple cabin.  Roasted chicken, cakes, stews.  My favorite, though, was humble spaghetti.  Even this was usually a bit fancier than what we had at home.  Sauce made of crushed tomatoes, fresh onions and garlic, and plenty of basil and oregano.  I’m not sure we ever followed any specific recipe.  On a cool evening with the sun setting across the lake, a large platter of spaghetti steams nicely on the picnic table.

Back then we didn’t have television at the lake, at least nothing reliable.  Even the radio was somewhat unreliable.  So most often the cabin was quiet.  If a radio did play, it played music softly.  At night this would be especially soothing.  If there was noise to be made, it was made by the crickets outdoors.  Comic books, Mad Magazine, and puzzles kept even my nosey brothers quiet and busy.

Now when I go to the I am likely to sit more.  Just quietly sit and gaze out across the water.  Or go for a short walk back in the woods and hope to run into a bear or something.  (I have been looking for a bear for years.  The only ones I ever see are hanging  at the DNR’s big game check in station at a local bar.)

I enjoy an especially luxurious wine and maybe a snack of cheese and fruit, unthinkable when I was a  boy, while I sit in the woods looking at the lake.  Nothing seems quite as remote as it once did.  For one, nothing is as remote as it was.  In so many ways city life has spilled into all corners of the outdoors.  But I still enjoy the juxtaposition of a little luxury when “roughing it.”

I think that was the appeal of all those great lake meals as a kid.  The idea that we were miles from town and stores and still had the presence  to spiff up a decent meal from inside a tiny cabin kitchen…that appealed to me.   Perhaps not quite at the level of something like New Scandinavian Cooking, but leaning toward that direction.

Yeah…I should be up there now, roasting a duck or something.


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