It’s been just a bit since we talked about Lake George and Camp.
At the northern end of the lake, there sits this place that I’ve romanticized.
It’s a kind of special family place where everybody is welcome, and since they are, we all show up.
Sometimes we even let somebody know we’re coming, and sometimes, well, surprise!!!
I used to be a faithful follower of camp life, and I don’t think I’ve ever set foot in Ticonderoga without going there at least once.
Aunt Dorothy, who must be in her late 30’s or early 40’s by now, since I am so young myself, has never failed to be a one-woman welcoming committee.
But it’s when everyone gathers round that things are the most fun.
In our later years, those times seem fewer and fewer, and with each passing year, we note one or two people who have crossed the rainbow bridge and can’t show up anymore, except in our hearts and memories.
It’s a tough thing sometimes, it really is.
I guess the last time I was there, it was early April, and while the calendar said spring, the temperature and the light dusting of snow said otherwise.
Winter can be a lonely time in the North Country, and I was alone that day.
My mother had died.
I was home for that particular reason, which tends to make one reflective in any event, but I drove out to camp, parked the car, and left the motor running.
The dock and the deck were down there beckoning, but the Queen of American Lakes wasn’t going to see anyone swimming in her today.
Fed by springs that bubble up from the bottom, and ice cold snow that runs off, this American beauty would have taken your life as quick as she pleased that cold morning.
I wasn’t there for the fun or the swimming. I was there to reflect.
I don’t know about you, but when I’m sad or feeling down, I prefer to go someplace that has great memories of fun times, and just sit.
So I sat.
I decided to walk down and stand on the dock like I had done a thousand times before.
The air was crisp, and I could still see my breath, and that let me know that I was still alive, and if I was, then this was home, and I belonged here.
I can’t remember how many things we all celebrated here.
We had our wedding reception right there on the lakefront lawn with all the Streeters and Provonchas.
A band played, and we all danced. The memory has outlasted the marriage, and there you have it.
Some things are permanent. They might change a bit here and there, but they are always there.
And that’s the magic of this place.
When you can count on something, and count on great memories as a result, then something special happens, and it brought a smile to my face, standing in the cold, just hours before I would lower my mother and commit her to God’s great care.
I’ve not been back since that day. There just hasn’t been time.
But if there is a day that goes by without at least a passing thought of this manmade testament to permanence, then I can’t remember that day, nor do I want to.
I know that my writing tends to wander all over the place. I’m in “that” phase where I have to experiment with my ability to customize words and craft paragraphs that meet some unknown goal from my still young thought process.
But when I come back to center, I tend to come to this place.
It’s more than just a home on a body of water.
It’s the embodiment of everything that our people hold true and dear. Old friends, our forefathers, our grandfathers, our grandmothers, our children, and our children’s children.
We’ve all been here, and given our choices, we’d stay.
But life doesn’t work that way.
We have jobs, responsibilities, families that need us, and so we wander afar to stake out a new frontier that we will call home.
Annually, there is a migration that takes place.
It happens in a certain order usually beginning with Memorial Day, going strong through the Fourth of July Picnic and free for all, and it lasts through until the cold winds blow, and it’s no longer shorts and T-Shirt weather.
But while it lasted, it was a sight to behold.
Young and old, family and friends, in-laws and outlaws, they all came.
There’s a picture on top.
My mom is in the front row, and she looks tired, yet happy.
Aunt Beverly was there.
All committed to the ages now, gone but not forgotten.
I’m not in the picture, I took it myself, it was something that I wanted to do, but I had no idea that all these years later, I’d be writing about it.
The people in this picture are more than a photograph.
There’s Fred & Holly, George & Peggy, Tom & Bev, Bill & Kay, Aunt Dorothy, and John & Anne.
Bob couldn’t make it that year. He lives in England now.
The kids: my God Daughter Carol Ann, Penny Provoncha in the back, and Julie on the right front who has always been my favorite cousin.
My wife is on the left end in her heart t-shirt. So many of the Provoncha kids have grown up, and I can’t think, but I know Sherry in there, and Sammy is with her daughter. If I can’t remember kids, please forgive me.
To say that these memories are special is to think that the Grand Canyon is just another hole in the ground.
These are the people who make my world go around. Facebook has helped us reconnect and stay connected. Every communication is somehow special, no matter how small or insignificant.
I think in fifty years, we’ll probably all be gone.
I know that there will be fewer and fewer trips to the North, and I know that as each summer passes without a visit, a part of me dies inside.
That single act of being on the shores of this Lake, even for a day, marks one more moment in a paradise that I hope NEVER goes away.
The young have become the old.
The little boy on the left just went to college in his first car.
The old has gone now, and a new generation has come, and a generation after that has already made their presence known, and felt.
How many more people will get pushed off the end of the dock because, well, they were there and we had the chance.
How many more kids will swim across the lake, take the boat out, turn it over, and swim.
How many more canoe trips will take place, and how long will it be before all of those are out of my skill level, and I wind up swinging on the swinging chair like my parents and grandparents before me.
It’s a wondrous and powerful thing to share these connections with these people.
We don’t live here, but we occupy time and space, and those things are marked in our minds like photos that will never fade.
If only the rest of life were that way.