It is that time of year again. The summer is winding down and it has just passed from unbearably hot to bearably hot in the shade. My garden is getting ready to unload a massive torrent of ripe vegetables. The dogs have started to shed. And my family and I are preparing, once again, to travel to Northern Minnesota to descend on Long Lake and take over the Deer Trail Resort for a week. As it gets closer, an air of unreality sets in and I start to think things like "I can't believe I am about to go on vacation!" Tonight and tomorrow night I will likely have trouble sleeping because I will feel giddy until I get to the lake.
It seems a little bit strange, maybe, to start a new blog by writing about vacation. But for me, the year is about to end, and a new year will be born in the midst of the swimming, fishing, hiking, cooking, and eating that will dominate my existence next week. It is a time of renewal and reconnection. Many of the family members I will see and spend time with, I have not seen much since the holidays. We go much of the year about our business-as-usual, the hustle and bustle that can cause one to forget to take time to call or visit loved ones. When we get to the lake, it is different, because just by being there we have made time for one another. All the noise from jobs, school, and worries fades to the background as you breath in that fresh Northern air. And in this context, I am refreshed and recharged, ready to tackle new challenges and start my new year.
I made my first pilgrimage to the lake in utero, less than a month before I would be born. Since then I have gone every year and this will be my 29th year outside the womb. I stayed in my parents cabin for the first 20 years. The following year, I stayed a motel in the town about a mile away. The year after that, I stayed in my own cabin for the first time with my girlfriend, Alison, who would later become my wife. Since then we have occupied Cabin 4 together every year except one. My stepson, Gavin, came up for the first time in 2005 and has been an adamant supporter of the yearly vacation ever since.
Much has changed about the experience over the years. My grandparents, who had been a vital part of promoting the tradition my whole life, passed away several years ago. This makes my parents part of the oldest generation at the lake. I am now an adult, and instead of expecting everything to meet my demands, I try to make sure that Gavin has a good time. The lake is more tourest-y now than it used to be. But at the same time, it is still much the same as it has always been. It is still a place of family, renewal, peace, and living in harmony with the universe. And that is just as it should be.