A Cottage By The Lake

When I was in middle school I had a best friend who played the trumpet, just like me. And his name was the same as mine. Dale. Sometimes we played horn duets in church.

Sometimes we got in trouble in church together, too. One Wednesday, when folks used to go to church so God would know how serious they were, I was sitting with Dale, which wasn’t allowed. I had not yet reached the age of sitting somewhere other than with my parents. We started laughing during prayer, and the more we tried to stop, the louder we laughed. Suddenly, my ear was pulled almost completely away from my head. I was dragged up several rows to where my proper seat was.

There were many things about Dale I really liked. We were the same age. He lived on a farm. He had the neatest bedroom I had ever seen in my life. And his family owned a cabin on Loon Lake.

I loved being invited to spend the night at his house. To get to his bedroom, the stairs had to be pulled down from the ceiling. We climbed the folding ladder into a huge room with open rafters. It was great.

Dale invited me to come with his family to their cabin. I asked him where it was. He said, “It’s up between Mio and Rose City on Loon Lake.”

It was absolutely the coolest place I had ever seen in my life. The cabin was one big room. There were two double bunk-beds. The bedposts were real logs. I’m not sure, but I think the mattresses were filled with straw. They were so comfortable!

The kitchen had a sink with a pump next to it on the counter. The table was under a swing-in pane window with two sections. There were four other windows in the cabin just like it.

The outhouse was down the path a short distance from the cabin.

From the front porch was a path leading down the hill to Loon Lake. They had two small rowboats. We were free to go fishing any time we wanted. I caught a nice pike in the lake. Dale’s mom, Virginia, was so proud of me.

I remember looking out the window at the lake. I could see through the pine trees to the shimmering water. I didn’t ever want to leave.

I have been to many cottages, but none like that one.

I’m not sure it’s having a cottage by the lake that is so special. Whether you have to go twenty steps or walk down a road to get to the water, once you are on the beach, the lake looks the same to everyone.

I think it’s being able to see the water through the windows. When you can see the lake through the windows you don’t even have to be outside or sitting on sand to stare at the water like we all do.

Sparkles from the lake dance on the ceiling.

I haven’t seen Dale in almost sixty years, but I haven’t forgotten him or his family. I ate the biggest bowl of strawberry shortcake I’ve ever had at his house. Virginia is the only mom I have ever met who put a bowl of Oreo cookies on the table with breakfast.

Thanks for the memories, Dale. I hope you still have that cabin and pump still works.

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