The Cottage

The cottage, as we've always called it, has been a place where four generations of my family have enjoyed summertime gatherings and memory making moments. My grandparents bought it back in the 1940's when the lakeside was dotted with rustic seasonal cottages, a cooler place to escape to in the heat of summer before air conditioning was commonplace.

My mother is now in her mid-80's and chances are the cottage will soon be sold out of the family. The idyllic nature of the lake has disappeared over the years. Modest summer cottages have given way to pricey year-round homes which have driven up property values and taxes. Instead of the big pines, oaks and maple trees that gave cooling shade there are suburban-type expanses of green lawn. In many cases those lawns continue right down to the lake edge, which causes run-off and erosion problems, not to mention the chemical contamination from over-fertilization. The lake itself turns a putrid green by mid-summer, full of algae as a direct result of the landscaping practices and agricultural run-off from further up the lake.

Crowded septic systems contribute their own host of problems. Our "system" consists of a hand-cranked pump outside the back door. Unfortunately the water is no longer safe to drink because of the issues I've mentioned, so we only use it for cleaning or dousing campfires. A precariously leaning three-seater outhouse, the very last in the neighborhood, suffices for other needs.

The bygone corner store and watering hole just up the road, a place where one could get s'more fixings or popsicles for the kids or a cold six-pack for the grown-ups, is now a much-expanded supper club, with an outdoor tiki bar where live bands perform on weekends. Instead of the lazy drone of an occasional motor boat passing by, we now endure loud amped music echoing up and down the lake. And don't even get me started on jet-skis!

I've continued to collect and photograph images of the lake which I hope to publish in a memory book for my family. Over the next few days as the holiday and other events take me away from my computer I will have created some posts ahead of time with images of special things I want to remember of the lake and cottage. I hope you enjoy them.

Although we would normally be celebrating the 4th with my family at the lake cottage, this year will be different. This year we will travel a few hours down the road to spend a day celebrating the life of my husband's nephew, Kyle.  He may have been seen by many as just a kid in a wheel chair, but with the help of loving family and friends he lived a full and happy life, longer than was expected. The memorial will be at one of Kyle's favorite spots, a beautiful scenic outlook at a nearby state park, where we will gather to share memories, fellowship and food in honor of the wonderful young man he had become. We'll miss you Kyle.

Blue Mound State Park - Wisconsin

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