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.