On our drive to the lake, my father kept saying how horrified he was at all the houses built right to the edge of the lake. They were whole houses, not just little camps. “It wasn’t like this when I was a kid,” he kept saying.
“What about the restaurant?” I asked.
“Oh, that’s been there forever.”
It’s the restaurant where my wedding reception was held, 25 years ago. And a few years after that, Red-haired Sister married Tie-dye Brother-in-law out on the front lawn that slopes down to the water. Those were summer weddings, of course. I remember that while Red-haired Sister was saying her vows, Urban Sophisticate Sister sneaked around giving guests bubble solution and bubble wands that she’d kept a secret from Red-haired Sister. When the newly married couple turned to walk through the crowd, the air was filled with glistening bubbles.
I used to come sailing on this lake with my father when I was a kid. The sound of a chainsaw or the smell of burning leaves always reminds me of those fall days on the lake. My father told the story of the time he and Trumpet Player were sailing around out in front of the restaurant in a light wind, just tacking back and forth. Finally, they came into the dock and into the bar. The bartender said to them, “I wondered how long it was going to take you to come in and have a drink.”
On an icy day in February, the big windows of the restaurant looked out across a white expanse where snowmobiles zoomed along and ice fishermen carried their equipment to the edge of round holes. My parents and I had come to the restaurant to celebrate my father’s 78th birthday. We were joined by Drumming Grandfather, who was celebrating his 78th birthday the very same week. My father and Drumming Grandfather have known each other since high school; they were in a band together in 1947.
While my parents were looking at the menu (which you’d think they’d know by heart), I couldn’t resist slipping outside to take a few photos. Even though the temperatures had dropped below zero, with winds off the lake that made it feel considerably colder, I decided to dash out without my coat. I sneaked down to the big banquet room, empty on this winter day, and went out the glass door. As it shut behind me, I thought, “Damn. I bet it’s locked.”
Of course it was.
Outside in frigid winds, wearing no coat and no boots, with the entrance locked firmly behind me, I did what any rational person would do. I clambered down the snowy lawn to take photos of the lake. Within minutes, my fingers were red and painful. Shivering, I ran back up the hill to the building. I considered, for just a moment, throwing myself across the front windows, pounding like a crazy person where all the customers would see me. I do love a dramatic scene.
Then I realized that I could climb over the fence, make my way across the snowbanks, and slide into the parking lot at the front of the restaurant. Camera in hand, my face chapped with red, coatless and bootless, I strode into the front door, pretending that really, I had intended to take a nice walk in the winter wind all along.