These places allow us to time travel back to when our children where young, we were young, and our parents where young. They draw us into their web of memories and stories that are comforting and sad at the same time. They allow us to shed our defenses, so we can experience what children see – pure summer joy.
Ross Island was this place for us, our children, our mother and her mother. We all spent summers here as children and then with our children. It was a place that changes as slowly as the giant pine trees grow, setting down roots on islands shaped by the last ice age.
It was a place that has held over a 100 years of family memories. Memories passed down through blood, experience, stories and time.
Memories filled with picnics, fish fries, boat trips, sunburns, swimming and sailing lessons, summer storms, fishing stories, trips to town for candy and ice cream, sailing, windsurfing, grandparents, grandchildren, old friends, crayfish, stubbed toes, lazy days on the porch swing, a box full of comics, badminton, sandcastles on the beach, lunch on the dock, breakfast on the back screened deck, sunsets, train whistles at night, electric blankets, cheese bread, donuts, homemade cookies, long car rides from Winnipeg, ducklings, canoes, kerosene lamps, croquet, bold eagles, tubing, waterskiing, paddle boards, sunset boat rides, visits, learning to drive a boat, family time, bathing in the claw foot tub, Karen, boathouse fridge, daylight until 10 pm, roasting marshmallows in the fireplace on cold days, flag pole. Smells of the kitchen cabinets, the boathouse, south winds, mothballs, pine trees, camp fires, outboard motors, cooking. Sounds of loons, boats, seaplanes, water lapping on the rocks, wind through the great pines.
All these memories, stories and experiences would not have happened if it had not been for my mother’s family. They were the ones who bought and built on this small island before motor boats. Ross Island has always been my mother’s place, where she connected to her family, her mother and her past. She has nurtured our families’ connection to this place, it was her island in the end.
So, when our mother, with support and love from our father, decided to sell Ross Island, it was her way for announcing to herself and her family that it was time for us all to pay attention – nothing in this life lasts forever, not even her.
Now these memories, like a time capsule, will be carried with us and in that knowledge, that they will also remain for eternity on Ross Island.
Finally, as we left the camp for the last time, it looked exactly as if we were just going to town for ice cream.
July 29, 2017
Lake of the Woods
Kenora, Ontario, Canada