I guess this will be the last from the book. No comments, no reason to continue. Up to you folks.
It seemed like I had been introspective for more than an hour. That was when my dad aroused me from my journey to the past. But when I checked my watch, I found it had only been 15 minutes from the time I had first taken my place under the tree. He hadn’t yet begun to disconnect the water, or load the car, but he had most of the stuff ready to pack up. October meant that we would haul the boat up to the cabin. Now it was only 35 feet to the water. The lake had risen dramatically in the last year. One time, it had been 150 feet to the water. Now, only 35. Heavy rains over this last year really pushed the limit. The lake level itself had risen 4 feet in the last 5 years, and it was now just a foot below what some idiot at the DNR claimed was the “Normal High Water Mark.” All our efforts to get the government to step in, to lower the lake, had gone for naught. And in July, with the heaviest rains in years, I left the cabin saying “I’m abandoning a sinking cabin.” I had never realized how true that was going to be.
We moved the boat up to the cabin, and set it by the west side. Then we went back to the lake to haul in the 3 remaining docks that were still in the water. We slowly piled up the sections, moving everything to whatever area was dry.
My trip to the past had been delayed a bit, but by no means stopped. Memories of the past, bits and pieces of the years kept coming at me. As they passed in a blur, I recognized some images that I wouldn’t forget.
There was the first year: A tornado touching down in the middle of the lake on the evening of a hot June day. I remember the temperature’s high that day. 88 degrees. Humid, too. The tornado did not damage any cabins or houses, but blew a fleet of boats into the lake. After the storm, our neighbors and my dad went out to retrieve them.
Then, there was the thief--the one that “happened by” in the middle of the night, stealing motors, fishing equipment, oars, and grabbing any fish that the folks had caught. They “borrowed” dad’s boat, hauling their ill-gotten booty to the road by “Nellie’s” place, where they apparently took it away in a truck or van. I’d never know.
A memory of a rabid skunk prancing through our neighbor’s yard, ours, and the yards of two others surfaced. I could still smell that skunk, even if it had been 14 years since it came through. We had no choice but to eliminate it. We used a bow and arrow, finally stoning it to death with large rocks.
One year, we had lots of water in back. We filled with clean fill, believing we’d have a dry yard in the future.
Another year, I remembered, as well. I knew Diane, but she was nowhere to be found in the state, as she spent the summer on a ranch in Wyoming.
Snippets of friendships in the area came back to me over the time we pulled in the docks. Randy and Lori, a brother and sister from across the river in the cities, came into my life for a while. And their little brother--Martin, was it? I couldn’t remember. Cory, too. He had been a chess champ in school, and over this last year I had played him 6 times, losing 5 of them. He made grandmaster status a later in life. There was the young kid, Jeff, and his sister Millie. Those two had been pests. There were the neighbors to the east, and their kids although they moved away two years before. And then, of course, the old-timers with last names of Torbelli, Thomas, Webster, and Orville.
My thoughts seemed to be in a holding pattern, now. The last year, mainly. What little golf we played was being relived in my mind. Fishing, too. And I would be in the final year of college. The assignments, the papers; the memories swirled about me like a sandstorm. Life always seemed to have a way to lay me low whenever I accomplished something of importance.
Finally, the docks all in to the shore, I went back to my seat on the picnic table. Once again, I felt the warmth of the autumn sun, and heard the waves lapping at the shoreline. And my eyes fluttered closed…and I, once again, began to remember the old times, and I continued my trip to the past.