The Lake of a Million Memories

Memories strike at strange times and in unexpected ways.

I have a relationship with the towpath and the canal. Its constant but ever-changing presence embodies the evolution in my life.  Along the canal, in the quiet of the morning, my heart opens and my thoughts are unfiltered and wandering.

Today my mind roamed through the memories of Big Sand Lake, the vacation spot of my youth and my adulthood.

It’s not a destination; it’s more than hours on the beach or rainy days spent playing Risk indoors. One summer after another, I traveled from the innocence of childhood through the fleeting pain of unrequited teenage love, to the joys of motherhood, and the challenges that face an adult.

Through too many moves and changes to count, I always knew that in the heat of August we would return to the quiet beach on the bay. We’d come back to familiar places and make new discoveries.

Some experiences are the same for my children as they were for me.

Couzzin’s Candy Store is frozen in time; jars of mouth-watering treats line the shelves and paint the tables with a rainbow of color. They’re filled with every candy you can imagine from jaw breakers to dots, including multicolored gummy snakes as long as my son’s arm. Every year we’re tempted by the medley of chocolates and the variety of homemade fudge.  We each leave with white paper bag full hand-picked sweets clutched in our hand.

Memories converged as I pictured my children playing on the beach. I saw myself through them, and recalled hours in the sun and secret moonlit swims. My musings meandered to recent summers and they were ‘on location’, filming the latest escapade of three outdoor adventurists.

“Crikey, mate. I think we’ve stumbled across a nest of turtle eggs.   Be very quiet now, so as not to disturb them,” my son said, in his best Australian accent.

Names and images sped through my mind much faster than I ran:  Moondance Ranch, Woodtick Theatre, the Logging Camp, and the Dorset House, each thought accompanied by a snapshot or a snippet of conversation.

I never lived there, but I grew up on Big Sand.

This summer I return once again, this year to celebrate the 50th year of my life and to welcome the promise of tomorrow.

Minnesota may be the land of 10,000 lakes, but Big Sand is the lake of a million memories.

25 thoughts on “The Lake of a Million Memories

  1. You make it easy to picture this place and I have never been. Sounds like a wonderful place with wonderful memories.

  2. I absolutely love this. I was transported back to each place and event you described. They are such great memories and I’m glad you were able to express them all so eloquently.

  3. The more I read, the more I love your writing. You have a special way of expressing your feelings and bringing the reader into your life for a brief moment. You have a gift. Keep on writing! Mary

  4. I am sorry it has taken me so long to get here. Your description of this place of yours, instantly takes me to my favorite place as well. Thanks for the ride!

    I believe you truly are blessed with a gift, Beth!

  5. Beth,
    Thanks for sharing these wonderful thoughts. It provided an opportunity to recall all my summer vacations at my Grandmother’s house on the beach when each summer about 15 cousins and I would converge for the same month. Thanks for reminding me what’s important and keeping me grounded.

  6. If you like the tow path and the canal, you should venture to Forbidden Drive (no cars) further inland. It part of Fairmont Park starts at Northwestern Avenue. It is my family’s favorite and it is a national treasure with Valley Green restaurant along the way. The path is natural stones, along the Wisohickon creek, fully tree covered all the way. You could take it all the way to the Philadelphia museum of art, if continue on to Kelly Drive.

  7. You are a wonderful writer Beth. Keep up the good work and know that I will read every one of your stories. How talented you are.

    Karma Crowell

  8. Hey Beth,
    We met at the last Philadelphia writers group. I enjoyed your piece and I finally sat down here to read your blog. Seems we have something in common. I too am from the Midwest, Minneapolis to be exact. We had a cabin North of Brainerd growing up, on Crosslake. I cherish each and every memory. Sadly we do not own it anymore, but my sister has a cabin on Big Sandy. My children are there with her this weekend as a matter of fact. I drove from PA to MN with my three kids and our dog Jack last Thursday so they could go and experience the cabin. Little has changed there. I know that they are having a blast and that they come away with cherished memories like my own!
    Look forward to seeing you at the next meetup. In the meantime, please check out my blogs.
    Would love your feedback!

    1. Hi Jenni!

      Thanks so much for stopping by to read my blog. I enjoyed meeting you at the writers group meeting and look forward to seeing you again.

      What a small world! I bet we’ve been to many of the same places around the area. I hadn’t heard of Crosslake, but I’m familiar with Brainerd and Big Sandy. How great of you to drive them to MN for the experience. You’re right, it’s one they will cherish forever. Minnesota is a very special state.

      I would be delighted to check out your blogs.


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