That’s all the time we had to spare this weekend, but we went all the same.
But, eating Ohs cereal on the deck in the early morning with sleep-haired blondies – looking at the lake and throwing the occasional cereal off of the deck in hopes of getting to see a ground squirrel is maybe worth the seeming several hours of sunblock application.
The water is record breakingly high this year – meaning little beach to go around. And while we were there I kept thinking, “Is Bear Lake actually that great? There are probably a million vacationy spots that are better, aren’t there? Would there really be any reason to love it so much if I didn’t just . . . already love it so much?”
But it was no use asking myself those questions. I am completely unable to look at it from an unbiased perspective. One may as well ask if Christmas songs are actually very good. Who knows? Maybe they aren’t, but they are Christmas songs. One could never see clearly if they were intrinsically great or not – we are all too emotionally attached to them.
I guess it is some sort of a little testament to the power of association. It is hard to judge anything clearly when it is associated with memories or feelings. I can’t eat Campbell’s vegetable soup because I once had it when I was horrendously sick and ever after link it to illness. And I can’t not love Bear Lake because it is so tied to summer and my grandma’s long silky night gowns and the smell of her lotion; my mom reading us stories on the small orange fold out couch in our beach front trailer; Ovaltine with evaporated milk added in for every breakfast, and cream peas and potatoes for at least one dinner. It is too tied to pudding in brown bowls and drinking from tan plastic cups with white lines and white handles; the sound of the back trailer step squeaking as my dad stepped outside in the early morning to exercise or swim or type at his typewriter; it is connected forever to one blue dock that eventually was surrounded by no water as the lake went through a spell of low years, and millions of collected miniscule seashells; making whistles out of snake grass and playing Barbies on large wave-breaking rocks. It is tied to a yellow square tub of water that we had to wash our sandy feet in before heading in the trailer, a clothes horse we set out wet things on in the sun to dry, some old blue ziffy boards stored under the trailer along with the larger “Captain Sea Scope”, and some faded orange life jackets kept in the cupboards inside. Bear Lake somehow still always means looking for sail boats with old binoculars and hearing the jingle of the cow/dinner bell that hung on the trailer wall when you slammed the door tightly; going to The General Store with my dad for ice-cream, and walking up Hodges road to feed horses and toss sticks off one side of a bridge – then run to the other side to see them come through. It is tied to two faded and sturdy outdoor blankets that were often dragged to the shade of some trees for a late afternoon rest, and the morning sound of crows, and yes, even many miserable sun burns.
No. I really can’t see Bear Lake from an outsider’s perspective at all. I only know that it is clear and blue and conveniently shallow for yards and yards (which means less fear of little ones crawling in over their head), and that driving past my grandma’s old spot – oddly bare with out her trailer there, makes me feel an uncomfortable knot inside over things that are good and right and happy with life having become only memory. Good memory. But past. The kind of past that you want to be able to go back and live just a few days in again. And I think I have some strange belief that my kids’ lives will only be whole and right if, by some happy chance, I am able to create similar memories surrounding this lake for them.
Only . . . maybe with fewer other beach goers next time.