Every Memorial Day weekend, family members gather at my parents’ camp up on the river, setting up tents under the tall pine trees and eating their meals at the picnic tables under the old oak trees. My parents’ camp is a peninsula, a couple of acres set amidst a marsh on a bay that leads the river. We've got an assortment of small boats, including a bunch of canoes and kayaks, that we can use to explore the marsh. In addition to the small cabin that my parents stay in, we have a tiny communal cabin, where everyone stores their food and where the young people play cards at night.
The cabin doesn’t hold much — just a wooden table and benches that my father built and an antique refrigerator, but the refrigerator is an invaluable item when you’re feeding 25 family members on a hot summer day. The refrigerator has been failing for years; in fact, it was broken when we got it. The only way we could keep the freezer shut was to shove some folded cardboard in as we slammed the door shut, a skill that only some of us could master. Those of us sick of hearing the cry “Mom, come shut the freezer door!” were not sad at all when the refrigerator died completely. I’ve been wanting to replace it for years.
Last Thursday, I drove up to camp early to be there for the delivery of the new refrigerator. It arrived on schedule, trundled over the dirt road by two hard-working delivery guys, and I plugged it in immediately. It was exciting to see all the details. Shelves on the door! A freezer that works! Crisper drawers for vegetables! More than one shelf! We'll be able to store lettuce without it turning black. We'll be able to make ice cubes; we can have ice cream, even. We all kept thinking of all the luxuries we are going to enjoy. For the rest of the weekend, family members who arrived were obliged first thing, even before setting up their tents, to go into the cabin and admire the new refrigerator.
I took the photo from the end of my parents' dock -- four of the young people in the family paddling at dusk. I liked it better than a picture of the refrigerator.