My fondest memories are of the time I spent on Little Barbee Lake in Warsaw, Indiana. My Grandparents owned a cottage there. I have nothing but good memories of that little cottage. There was no fighting or fussing. No worries. We just went and had fun.
It took a little less than two hours to get to The Lakes from my Grandparents house. That’s how we said it. The Lakes. It was a treat. It was important. Like Disney. You don’t say disney. My Grandparents and Mother would plan for our trip. They would come to our house and get us. Mother bought us little suitcases when we were small that she would pack all of our things in. There was always great excitement when we got to go. We usually stayed a week. It was never long enough.
The cottage was on a back street. It sat on the lake. When you pulled in the driveway, you were at the garage in the back. The cottage was gray with white trim. When you walked in, you entered the kitchen. The kitchen was small, there was a little table and chairs and then you were in the living room. My Grandma has a scratchy couch in the living room. When you came inside with your bathing suit on and sat down, the material always scratched my legs. There was a small bookcase that my Grandfather had built that mostly held books written by Billy Graham and National Geographic magazines. The top of the bookcase was also something my Grandfather had made. He and Grandmother had traveled a lot and collected coins everywhere they went. He took all of those coins and set them in an epoxy, I guess, and that is what he topped the bookcase with. It was as if the coins were floating in water. There were two bedrooms off to the left, one was my Grandparents and the other was where Jeff and I would sleep. Or if my cousins came, we took turns between the beds and that scratchy couch. The closets were cedar. Our clothes would smell like ceder while we were there. That’s on my wish list for our home, ceder closets. The bathroom was small. The front of the cottage was full of windows that looked out over the lake. There was a little black and white television that we watched Lawrence Welk on. Out the front door was a fenced-in front yard. It wasn’t very big but it was always well-kept. We had a double hammock in the yard. That was my favorite place. I loved to lay there in the sun and sway slowly back and forth. I read books laying out there, listening to the lake sounds and smelling the lake smells. It was cool in the evenings quite often and grandpa would make a fire in the little stove. I love that smell. When ever we have a fire here at home, it mixes with our lake smell and I am homesick for Little Barbee.
The dock was right in front of the cottage. It was here that the boats slept. A boat for rowing. A speed boat that skipped and jumped across the lake with incredible speed, making me squeal with delight. A pontoon the whole family could fit on. I would sit on the edge and dangle my legs in the cool water. I hated the seaweed that grew in the lake. It wrapped around your arms and legs when you swam. It scared me. I ways always afaid it would grab onto me. As I dipped my toes in the water, I was very careful not to let the slimy tendrils touch me. Also secured to the dock was my Grandpa’s sailboat. That was my favorite. When Grandpa asked if you wanted to go on a sailboat ride with him, you were in for a treat. There was only room for two people, so it would just be him and I. He would explain how everything worked. The boat was smooth and slow. A lot of times, there wasn’t even any conversation. It was peaceful and meditative. Although I didn’t know what that word or concept meant at the time, I was aware that it was a special time. Now, I relish any time I get to have time to myself or with someone who appreciates time spent just that way.
We had very few rules at the lakes. The rules we did have were strictly enforced. When you are in the lake, if you scream, you better really need help. We would get carried away playing and yell and shriek. That would get you a seat in the house for the rest of the day. Grandpa wanted to be able to discern whether we needed help or not. We also weren’t allowed to bother the ducks. No teasing them. No throwing things at them. The only time I ever remember getting in a lot of trouble with my Grandparents, Jeff and I broke one of the duck eggs. The ducks made their nests around a light pole right outside the fence. We were picking the eggs up and inspecting them. That was a HUGE no-no. I dropped the egg and it broke. The only reason I didn’t get spanked was because I went and found Grandma and told her what I did. I cried. Not because of the trouble I was in but because Grandpa told me that the Mother duck would be missing a baby now. Oh! I was heart-broken over that.
The lake house was my favorite place to be when I was young. My house is my favorite place to be now. It reminds me of when I was young. The smells, the sounds, the feel of everything around the water. I love the loons singing. I am happy when the pelicans come for their short visit. I love being on the water. Ken fishing while I take pictures. It’s quiet between us. It’s that comfortable silence that I get to share with only a few people. Ken reminds me of my Grandfather. He is quiet and sure. Easy yet firm. Safe and secure. I am blessed every day with some sort of surprise from the lake. The sunrises and sunsets. The turtles that come up in the yard to lay eggs. The heron that perches in the tree down by the water. It’s what my Heaven is like.