The Lake

Posted: October 28, 2013 in creative writing, Everyday Life
Tags: , , ,
This weekend I will be attending the annual family reunion. Do I look forward to this? Yes. Do I dread this? A little. Am I the only one? I think not. It is so nice to go but it stirs the melancholy of my soul.

We have this event at a beautiful state park in Iowa. A park that has been a touchstone for me all of my life. To me and my siblings it is just “the Lake”, it has always been there. I don’t remember the first time that I came here. I prefer to remember my first visit as from the air.

My father piloted the plane for the photographer that took the first aerial photographs of the park. The pictures were used for years in the displays that the state conservation commission set up at the state fair and other events. I grew up with an original print of that picture hanging above my father’s desk. I think of  “the Lake” and I see that picture.

I rode from a very early age with my father in his Piper Cub. One of the first rides I remember is sitting on Dad’s lap, sharing the space with the control stick, and just being able to peek over the side of the plane , out the open window, and seeing “the Lake” below as he gently banked the plane so I would have a better view. His legs squeezing me tightly and with his arm around my chest. I don’t remember thinking this as unusual until a few years ago when I gave my grandson his first ride in a similar way.

My family were avid fishermen, including me. We were and still are old school. Speeding from place to place in a bass boat as if in a contest is not our style. These are not allowed on “the Lake”. Fishing with electric trolling motors or oars are only allowed. That’s it, no wake anywhere. It’s beautiful, quiet and few visitors. I won’t even mention the park’s name, it is the best kept secret in Iowa. My son learned to bass fish there, and now my grandsons. We learned to “plug” the shorelines.

When I was growing up, before trolling motors, I rowed the boat for my dad and big brother and would only be able to cast in between power strokes and precise maneuvering instructions from them on how far to stay from shore. I didn’t mind but at times wished I was elsewhere. On one occasion, on a windy day, being tired of their irritated comments of my boat handling, I simply exited the boat, overboard and swam to shore. I nearly capsized the boat. And wish I had. Once at shore I refused their pleads for me to get back in and I walked half way around the lake through the woods to get to the car. After that, we all shared the rowing responsibilities and I became a better fisherman.

So today as I travel to our gathering, other memories such as these will be stirred of “the Lake” and  my family growing up. I’ll keep them in mind this weekend as I watch my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews formulate their own childhood memories and I will wonder about them years from now recalling their own family times at “the Lake”. And I think, what can I do to make their memories as wonderful ?

Nine Eagles

“A person is lucky to have a place that triggers deep memories. This weekend was spent at one. The Lake has been in my family for as long as I am able to remember. It is the University of Nine Eagles as far as I’m concerned. I have learned all the things that are worth knowing at the Lake. How to swim, fish, canoe and row to name just a few. All things un-motorized within it’s boundaries. But I did learn to drive a car behind the wheel of our President Studebaker going there. I learned the laws of game conservation and respect for nature there. I don’t litter, make noise, light fires, shoot road signs, let’s just say make an ass of myself in public, to this day because of my observations and what I learned from that manmade place. I can’t think of a more glorious place for a 10 year old boy to spend a day or the entire summer. Or from better men to learn to share it with than Pappy, Carrier, Craig, Buck, Mike and Joe. So thank you once again ol’ Nine Eagles. You have once more quietly kept my attention and respect and renewed my sole until I’m drawn back to your banks again.”


  1. This is very beautiful! Thank you for sharing your family and your memories with us!
    I love your question to yourself…it’s so wonderful to think about what you could do to add to the positive memories the younger generation are making as they spend a weekend at the Lake! 🙂
    I hope you, too, make more precious memories this weekend!
    Have fun!!!
    HUGS!!! 🙂


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