The Browns had arrived the Monday and Grandma and Grandpa were arriving Tuesday in late afternoon. It was quiet in the house when I woke up, Ivy and I came downstairs and we practiced our ritual; start the coffee then Ivy gets a short walk, followed by Ivy going back to sleep and I get to write. We had to be especially quiet as John was sleeping on the couch.
I was almost finished when William came downstairs and wanted to go fishing. He still needed to catch and cook a fish to complete the requirements for his fishing merit badge. He wanted John to go with us and I told him we would go as soon as John woke up, and he could not wake him. John slept late, so William and I visited Skip’s to shop for fishing supplies Alex, another of William’s cousins who loves to fish, had suggested we needed to successfully fish the lake. William had called Alex Monday evening for advice on what he should use to catch fish in the lake. Alex had given William advice for the four varieties of fish in the lake: blue gill, bass, walleye, and pike. Alex is an excellent fisherman and has caught them all. Last Labor Day weekend, Alex and a high school buddy had come to the cottage to fish and had taken William out with them for a short time. William had a blast with Alex. Older cousins take on super human qualities and Alex, as well as Sam and John fall in to those categories. We looked around Skip’s and got what we needed and returned to the cottage. By that time both Sam and John were awake, but conditions for fishing were not good and we postponed the expedition for the evening.
I planned to return to Wheaton on Wednesday with Beth and the kids are to follow on Thursday; and it meant I had a few odd jobs to complete before leaving. Like a home, there is always something to do at the cottage. I needed William’s assistance with one job and it took more time than I planned, but it was done and William got to go shopping with Sam and John. William had had his eye on a Nerf gun and Sam and John agreed to take William on to Gaylord for the Nerf gun. They took Olivia and it was quiet at the cottage. I cleaned green beans for dinner and Beth and Jill cleaned peaches for the peach pies. We were having green beans, ham and potatoes a summer favorite – although it is a hot meal, it is perfect for summer’s fresh green beans. The same goes for the peach pie.
The kids returned just before Grandma and Grandpa pulled in the driveway. We helped them unload and it was time for dinner. The ham, beans, and potatoes did not stand a chance with us and they were gone quickly. The peach pie with vanilla ice cream followed. All of it was good, too good. The ‘pot liquor’ or broth from the pot was the only thing left and we poured some on Ivy’s dinner and it, too, was gobbled up quickly.
William reminded me we had a date with the boat and we went fishing. Sam and John stayed back, they had not gotten a fishing license and I can tell you from personal experience it is not a good idea to hold a pole on the lake without a fishing license! We started fishing between Big Bear and Little Bear Points with lures. Alex had told us to drag the lure along the bottom and it would bring us a bass, or maybe a pike. All we got were weeds. Earlier in the summer, we had been successful in South Bay, so we pulled in our lines and rode over to South Bay. We switched from lures to hooks and worms. Olivia was the first to put her hook and worm in the water and she pulled in a blue gill! We pulled it off the hook and put it in the live well. William switched his rod over to a hook and had a big one (that is what they all say) and it got away – hook and all. William was sad, but he fixed his rod making certain to tie the hook more securely and was back at it. Soon he, too, pulled in a blue gill; Olivia and William were tied 1-1, I was being shutout. We continue to throw our hooks into the water. I would get a nibble and then the work would be gone. I gave up and let the kids fish, we only had so many worms.
The sun had gone below the horizon and it lit the sky with purple and blue hues. It was time to go home. We had to start a fire and cook a fish. Despite the fact, the cottage is on the lake and we fish; we do not cook fish inside the cottage. We docked and Olivia excitedly told her story of how she got the ‘big fish.’ We stored our gear and William set up the fire. I helped him get it started and soon we had a good campfire. All of us except for Grandma and Grandpa gathered around the fire. It was now time to clean and prepare our fish. Olivia insisted on keeping hers, so I used her fish as an example for William. William was a good student and had his fish cleaned and filleted quickly. We made foil packets with the fillets with butter and seasoned with salt, pepper, and dried basil. When Jill heard that she gave me grief – it provide giggles for the evening. I made a ‘hole’ in the fire with coals and showed William where to place them. We all talked, shared stories, listened, and laughed while the fish roasted. William pulled the packets out of the fire and I opened one checking for doneness and took a bite. Jill took a bite and teased me on my choice of herbs. Then William, who does not typically eat fish, tried a bite and then proceeded to devour both packets. S’mores, marshmallows followed, and we finished the campfire laughing and telling stories. There is nothing better than a campfire to bring the day to an end.
It was late, we doused the fire, and the sky was clear and we were in for a show. There had been a Coronal Mass Ejection on the sun resulting in aurorae being visible in northern Michigan. The night sky was lit up with flashes of light as the sun’s energy reached Earth. It was amazing to watch.
The day counted in more ways than I can appreciate. The cottage is always a great place to be. But, it is special when families get together and spend time together. Our time at the cottage this summer has gone quickly. Soon school will start and we will be working to make the days count in new and different ways, for now I need to savor the remaining summer days and make them count for a summer well spent.