My grandmother sold antiques out of her big red barn attached to her little red home. This was long after my grandfather passed away. She lived the remainder of her years in Melvin Village, which was across the lake from us. My father would go down to the dock in the summers and turn on the blower in our powerboat, which meant the engine had five minutes before ignition and my brother, mother and I had five minutes to get our sandals and shirts on, run down, take the lines off the cleats, push off, and jump in. Then on our way past the 20 mile bay en route to Melvin Village.
The lake was wide open as the sky back then. Kinda like the landscape created by the internet. Both could be dangerous, too. Lots of rocks and shallows needed be marked off by buoys, and many boats still got lost at night, and some still struck the jagged glacial remnants jutting up from the earth but hidden below the surface of the water, and some got hung up and a few still sank. Often the larger berths, the sightseeing boats whose lineage had been photographed and put on walls behind glass, ended up driftwood floating across the broads and past rattlesnake island.
Every winter, the lake froze over completely. At the height of winter it was often so cold we could drive out on the lake in a Jeep, and the ice was thick enough to hold us. We would skate the frozen lake, and dad would load our arms full of pine wood he cut down and we stacked in the summer, by the woodshed. I remember holding my arms out like a forklift, and he would ask is that enough? and I would say, just one more before heading back to the house and dropping the wood in the bin next to the giant hearth, for the great fires we would build to keep us warm at night. We would need to be prepared for the storms, the nor’easters, which powered over and knocked down trees and power lines, snowing everyone into their homes.
I remembered all this in great detail, after watching the news this morning. I turned off the television and sat out on my back porch thinking about it. I closed my eyes and tried to feel that feeling I felt so long ago, of being snowed in. I live in California now, so it has been a long time. But the feelings remain strong. The quality is insular. With all that snow around you, five or six feet high, the home becomes even more protective and warm, like there’s an extra layer of that fluffy pink stuff they packed the walls with back then, along with asbestos covered piping. Reminded me of cotton candy we got at the fair. tbc
by Katya W. Mills @ katyamills.com 06/13