And still more summer memories…

My family wasn’t the family that took vacations, had a pool or expensive toys, or did much of anything other than work. Right now, my life is mimicking that a bit. It’s ALL good, though — I get to live in the country, 100%!!

There have been times when there was more planned play. Frank won’t mind if I tell some tales from my past involving my ex and his large extended family…

My former grandparents-in-law had the opportunity to purchase several small cottages in southern Michigan in what had formerly been a Methodist summer camp. Their two daughters had the two cottages directly on the lake, and the two sons got the cottages located a bit up the hill with a great view of the lake. All of the cottages had docks and lake access, and everyone in the family had at least one boat. The Chain of Lakes was an awesome place to swim, water ski, and just boat as fast as we could. (And yes, there was often beer and campfires.)

Massive gatherings were planned and enjoyed over several summers. (There was major consternation the year my in-laws and the aunt both decided to sell their cottages, but after the shock was over, we were able to rent the aunt’s former cottage and pretend normality.) The grandparents-in-law were long gone, but their four kids had ten kids by twos and threes, plus spouses, friends, and a smattering of little ones and lots of dogs.

For an only child (me), this was glorious. Summers with a huge family that knew how to have fun! I was a kid again!

I could tell you how I learned to drive a boat, how to be a spotter for a tuber or a waterskier (my ex was exceptional), how I learned to water ski myself (all of ONE time, but I did get up!), and many other watery things, but this is another twilight story. You may be sensing a trend here, but I promise there will be no vampires or werewolves. (!)

Uncle Jim had a pontoon boat. His boat wasn’t like the newer fast ones; it was built and bought for fitting as many of us as possible on it at a time and cruising sedately around the Chain of Lakes. The only time this turtle speed was really comfortable, however, was as evening was coming on and it was time for ice cream. We’d all pile on, grab a kid or dog to occupy each lap, and off we’d go.

We’d motor across Moonlight Bay, through the channel into Marble Lake, and slide along the dock at Sunset Cove. This was the coolest store ever, with every manner of candy, silly toys for kids, campy souvenirs, necessities, gas for the boat, secondhand antiques, and handmade cabinets. Yep, coolest store ever. And ice cream — usually about 15 flavors!

(For any of you wondering, you can get me the darkest chocolate ice cream available, with chocolate ribbons and chocolate pieces, with hot fudge on top. If you can figure a way to add more chocolate, please do so.)

Once everyone was set up with their fuel of choice, including the pontoon boat, we’d head back to Uncle Jim’s dock. This was an even slower ride along the darkening lake; Uncle Jim tried to eat and drive, so we kind of undulated home. The ride was momentarily quiet as we all enjoyed Summer in a cone or cup, watching the sunset and listening to the crickets. Thinking back, the timing of giving the little ones that much sugar right before bed might not have been the best decision. I never thought about it until now: they weren’t my kids, I didn’t have to deal with ’em!

Those days are long behind me now. The ex has remarried and now has two kids, and I know they all pile up to Michigan and have made new memories. Smart Me got the ex’s boat in the divorce, and Frank and I have enjoyed lovely days in it at Mosquito Lake. There’s no puttering along or eating ice cream when I’m driving, though: my sweet, swift 22-year-old Yamaha Exciter with her twin 110-hp jet engines still does 54 mph flat out!