It’s another beautiful morning by the lake. It’s quiet and everyone is still asleep, including Ivy. I have drained the coffee pot, checked e-mail, transferred photos from photo cards, played games, and done everything imaginable except start writing.
The weekend has come and gone and with it another Ausable River Canoe Marathon. It’s an epic event for the town. There have been sixty-six of them, including this year’s race. The town hosts a festival and it is a big deal. The parade is bigger than the Fourth of July parade. There is a Saturday car show, carnival rides, a craft fair with vendors, and at nine o’clock, the race begins when racers pick up their canoes and run to the river, jump in, and begin paddling to Oscoda – some 120 miles away. It’s quite an event.
We had guests this weekend. Our nephew, and the kid’s cousin, Alex and his girlfriend came up for the weekend. They drove up from Ohio arriving late Friday night for a weekend visit. They planned to canoe downriver and explore the area before heading back Sunday afternoon.
Getting ready for visitors is fun. We’re kinda messy and we have a lot of stuff hauled up here for the summer – and hauled back. We bring groceries that are hard to locate – gluten free foods, snacks, and groceries from Trader Joes. By the way, TJ’s is a great place, you should check it out if there’s one close to you, honest. I bring books to read and office stuff to go through, stationary, and I collect postcards and stuff, just stuff. Much of it is well intentioned, actually, all of it is, and some of it goes back to where it came from, untouched.
When Alex called to confirm he was coming, we were in the middle of a home improvement project – the closet. The closet had spun-off to organizing underneath the kitchen sink and sorting through cleaning supplies. We tidied the cottage, prepped the upstairs bedroom and the pullout couch on the landing, hauled stuff to closets and out of view, vacuumed, and we were ready. O waited and waited. I wrote postcards. O and I played cards – Gin Rummy – while listening to the Reds on the radio. She texted Alex several times and was awake when they arrived at 12:30. W had fallen asleep on the floor upstairs and I shooed him into his room before they arrived. We got them settled before I tucked O to bed at one in the morning. Summer is a different time and the hours here are late. At this time of the year, the sun sets after nine and rises before six. The days are long and we try to squeeze every moment, every minute out – making them count, especially with guests.
I got up early Saturday, as I do most days. I had coffee brewing and started breakfast – bacon, sausages, and eggs served family style at the table. It’s an old wooden table that’s been here since before the cottage was part of the family – back in the fifties. There are two chairs at each end and wooden benches on either side – it is the center of front room facing the lake. It’s sturdy and solid, like the cottage. We’ve had eight people sit down and enjoy what has been cooking. No matter what is on the plate it always tastes better with more people – shared.
They took off for the river after breakfast. We cleaned up and wrote postcards before heading to town. Let me explain, the Post Office had created a special postmark cancellation for the Canoe Marathon and was cancelling all mail with the postmark and I wanted to send out postcards to family and friends. I know what you are thinking – geeky, but that’s me.
We made it to town, got the postcards postmarked, visited the craft fair, checked out the classic cars, all before heading to the grocery for a few supplies – eggs, bread, milk, and vegetables. We decided to skip the parade and enjoy an afternoon on the lake. O wanted to fish and hoped Alex would take her – Alex is an amazing angler – when he returned from the river.
I love to cook – especially at the cottage. We planned burgers and dogs for dinner with the trimmings – cottage staples baked beans, cucumber salad, and blue cheese coleslaw – a new edition to the cottage table. B made a blueberry crisp with fresh blueberries for desert. While I prepped the salads, the kids played. O planned the fishing trip, got the boat ready, and rigged for fishing. It was late afternoon when they came home from the river, hardly any time for fishing. To make it more difficult, the weather had turned cool, the lake was choppy, and it was not good fishing weather. O was disappointed and moped a bit, but Alex promised to take her fishing before he left.
I got dinner started and everyone pitched in – O got the table ready, B readied the kitchen counter for the buffet, and Ivy lay down in the kitchen, in the way, waiting. I plopped the burgers and dogs on the grill and they were done quickly. Burgers and dogs are a classic cottage meal – easy to make, serve, and eat. Especially, eat. We all sat down and enjoyed the company and the food. It was delicious.
It seems that we are not the only ones who favor a burger or a dog, I watched CBS Sunday Morning this morning – on my iPhone on rewind – so to speak and found the articles below, enjoy. A hot dog joint named Bark, sounds like a great place to visit.
Alex had never seen the canoe race – he had heard about it – but never seen it firsthand. We have seen it many times, every year as long as I can remember. We talked about the race and B and Alex planned the evening while I cleaned up the table and filled the dishwasher. The race is B’s deal – she has followed the race downriver many times. I just enjoy the start and the maybe, first checkpoint.
Once we had our race viewing strategy settled, we got ready. We made it to town, staged the cars for a quick getaway and made it to the start with time to spare. We watch the start from the same place every year – with the same folks, all from the lake. Every year, it’s the same – the calm river churned to a frenzy in a matter of moments with canoe racers paddling madly downriver. It’s a blast and we cheer until every racer has passed, then we rush off to our cars and the first checkpoint.
At the first checkpoint, the skies have darkened and the already cool night becomes cooler when it begins to softly rain. We cheer the first paddlers and the next sixty or so canoes before the drizzle dampens any ideas of following the race downstream. Once home, B checked on the race standing listening to the radio and the web; it’s been a full day and we are all asleep before midnight.
The weekend had been cool, wet, rainy and cloudy – cooler weather than normal and Sunday morning we woke to the possibility of fishing before Alex took off. We checked the weather – rain was in the forecast all day. Before breakfast started, O had been outside and prepped the boat for fishing, once more. She wanted to fish with Alex but before we could fish, she helped with breakfast mixing and making the pancakes. I fried bacon and made scrambled eggs. Just like Saturday morning, and dinner the night, before we sat down and shared a meal at the table. We talked about fishing, the canoe race, and the cottage.
Once breakfast was done, we were ready to push off and it started to pour. The rain came down; to pass some time, we looked at the cottage photo album, until the rain stopped. I was worried we would not be able to make the fishing trip before Alex and his friend had to leave, O was worried, too and disappeared while we looked at the cottage photos. By the time we had finished going back in time, the rain stopped and we took off out onto the lake. By the time we reached our fishing spot, it started raining again, first softly and then a steady rain, and finally a short downpour. The fish were bighting and Alex had pointed us in the right direction. Alex got the first fish and lost it before getting it out of the water. It was a big one – really. W fished without any luck and O and I fed our share of fish our worms before she hauled a blue gill out of the lake. It was the biggest blue gill I had seen her land, ever. No foolin’. The links are from posts from 2010 and 2011, respectively – like O, the fish have gotten bigger.
You can’t fish all day and if you did nothing else would get done – like a drive home or chores, or any number of things
I never look forward to leaving the cottage and I cannot imagine Alex did either. Going home meant a long drive home and work Monday and the rest of the week. For me that is still twenty days away and I am not looking forward to pulling up stakes and heading home. But, we turned the boat and headed toward shore.
Alex and his girlfriend packed and loaded, B made a quick lunch, we said our goodbyes and we waved as the truck pulled back out of the drive and down the lane toward home and responsibilities.
With more record lows this AM, parts of the Upper Midwest are wondering if it’s
— The Weather Channel (@weatherchannel) July 29, 2013
I lay down on the couch, picked up my book and read, and took a short nap. It was cool, windy, and cloudy outside and felt more like October than late July. You truly never know what weather is in store here by the lake. Whatever the weather, it’s always better with burgers and dogs. It is still cool, windy, and cloudy but I make my own weather so, I had better jump up, jump in, and seize the day. A guy can’t write all day, either. Today is gonna be a great day. Making the Days Count, one day at a time, especially when the days are shared.
What memories do you have of sharing a meal, special place or time? or any combination of the three.