Forrest Gump said that life is like a box of chocolate. I suppose so, but I have always seen it more like a book. There are many stories within a story. Characters come and go, the pages are grouped into chapters and the chapters combined tell the whole story.
Well, I guess you could say that a major chapter in my life has come to an end. For 50 years of my life, I was fortunate enough to be able to spend time in the family home on Geneva Lake. At first, it was for weekend visits, but soon turned into long weekend stints in during the summer, which led to a few week long (or more) stays during the summer break in school and then during my summers off from college, I would live there all summer, even becoming a WI resident for a period of time.
My mind is chalk full of memories from all of those years, fishing off the dock, going with my dad via boat to get doughnuts from the deli in Williams Bay, snowmobiling on the lake during winter and the games of rag tag, water skiing, knee boarding and tubing with friends all summer long.
I loved “the lake” growing up. When my parents first bought the place on the lake, things were a lot different than they are now. Geneva Lake and the town at the east end, Lake Geneva, were both fairly sleepy, laid back places. As time progressed through the late 80’s and into the 90’s, it became more and more popular and a playground for the rich from the Chicago area. The old lake houses that snugly sat on the shores were torn down one by one, to make room for an oversized mini-mansion, squeezed into every last inch of spare space of lakefront land. Don’t get me wrong, the new homes are beautiful works of art. However, gone is the sleepy, laid back feel that the lake used to have.
The lake itself has changed too. Most all of these new homes have professional landscapers taking care of things, which means irrigation systems, fertilizer and pesticides. Some of those chemicals end up back in the lake and the lake has been slowly eurtifying over the past 20-30 years. I will save you the google look-up and explain that eurtification is the build up of nutrients in water that causes things like algae to proliferate. Back in the 70’s and most of the 80’s, the lake was crystal clear. When the surface was like glass and the light just right, you could see the bottom clearly at a depth of 20 feet or more. The only thing that limited your visibility was the amount of light. These days, you are lucky to see the bottom of the lake in 8 feet of water and it is only getting worse.
Why the big dissertation on Geneva Lake and the town of Lake Geneva? Well, last Monday I took one last look at it as we left what was my parents place. With my mom dying in April and my sister living in Oklahoma and my brother living here in the Keweenaw, there was no longer a reason to keep it in the family. So back in late May it sold without even hitting the market. The new owners are actually the neighbors on the west of the house and were super nice in giving us time to get everything out and ready for them.
It was bittersweet to be saying good-bye to the lake. So many great memories, but they are all about the good times I had with family and friends and not so much the actual lake. Most of the friends I had while being there have faded into chapters of my past life, so there really was not as much to let go of as one might think 50 years would build. The only reason for me wanting to go there in the past 20 years or so was to see my family. I actually think the laid-back and somewhat sleepiness of the UP reminds me a lot of the lake in the 70’s and is a part of why I love the UP so much.
I think the saddest part for me was watching Grace have to let go. She has always been very sentimental and not only was she having to say good-by to the lake, but the place where she saw her grandma the most. I am grateful that her times of sorrow during saying good-bye do not last very long. She is able to get right back up on her horse and resume living life as our “Gracie-J”. We also had my niece take a family picture in front of the house before we left.
We departed the lake around 4 pm (central) and arrived at around 12 am (UP time). Brought our bags in and crashed for the night. The rest of the week has been pretty uneventful. Nora worked a couple of days, but got to work from home on Thursday and then takes most of the Fridays and Mondays off during the month of July. Our cherry tree was ready for picking by the middle of the week, so Grace and Nora did a lot of picking and made an awesome dessert out of some of them. There are more ready to pick, so we will have to get at it this week.
We have also had a fair amount of warmth this week. So the pool has been getting a regular calling. Although, I was awoken from a deep sleep by Nora telling me that one of the hoses had sprung a leak and we had lost a lot of water. So I stumbled out there and found a nice crack in the line from the pump to the chlorinator. The pump/filter/heater/chlorinator plumbing is a hodgepodge of PVC pipe and those flexible hoses you get with a lower end above ground pools. It works great, until one of the flexible hoses springs a leak! I was able to turn off the valves and stop the leaking. I also got up to the hardware store to find the needed ingredients to fix things and we are back to filling it! We probably lost around 1/3rd of the water, which equates to around 2400 gallons. The outdoor spigot has been returning water to the pool since around 8:30 this morning and 91/2 hours later, the water has come up about half the way it needs to. We could have still used it today, but Nora and Grace had quite a bit going on. With tomorrow’s high looking to be close to 90, I am sure we will be in there!
Our trip south last weekend also included some frolicking in Chicago for Grace and I. Nora also spent some time in the city, but most of it was spent with a friend from here in Jake who lives in the burbs. That is a whole journal entry in itself, so I will save that material for the next time! Enjoy your week and…
Good Night from the Keweenaw..