Sunday, April 23, 2017

REMINISCING: A Day at the Cottage

I’m going to ride the Lake Ontario wave for this week’s “Reminiscing.” No pun intended. Well, maybe just a little bit. My waves will not be nearly as destructive as the waves on the lake right now, though. No, I thought I might talk just a little bit about some of those days I spent on the lake as a kid.

In earlier “Reminiscing” articles I wrote about camping at Golden Hill and hanging out along at the lake at Roosevelt Beach. This time, we’re not going back to those places, but we are visiting some old friends. We’ve visited these old friends in other “Reminiscing” articles -- Porth/Stuckey family along with Nana Sterritt.

Mrs. Sterritt had a cottage on the lake that we would visit a couple times over the summer. Mostly, these were day trips where Mom and Dad would pick us up after a long day of fun. Occasionally, however, we’d spend the night. One time sticks out in my mind today, so many years later. It was July, 1985, and we had gathered for Steve Stuckey's ninth birthday.

It was a beautiful, sunny day on Lake Ontario. We were playing darts in the backyard. (That always confused me. The front yard faced the lake instead of the road. Weird.) They were real darts, not those plastic tipped things that break after every third throw. Of course, being boys, one of us dared another to throw a dart while the other player was removing his darts from the board. Steve ended up having a dart sticking out of his back. That was the end of darts for the day.

We did quite a bit of swimming. There is a picture of me down on the rocks below the front yard, ready to plunge into the lake. There were other games we could play. I think there were lawn darts, too, that we played. (Yes, those had metal tips, too. We survived.)

After cooking some dinner on the grill and some salads, it was time to settle down for the night. All the boys were camping out on the front porch, which faced the lake. The girls were in the loft above the living room. I remember the sunset over the western edge of the water coloring the waves orange. After some normal goofing off, we all fell asleep.

Sometime in the night, the weather shifted from awesome summer weather to an overnight summer storm. As a kid, I was pretty frightened of thunderstorms. Well…more than frightened. I was downright scared of them. On that porch, the thunder was louder than I had ever heard before. I echoed off the lake. And echoed. And echoed. The lightning seemed twice as bright, and the winds seemed sharper.

It was the waves that actually woke me. They were pounding rhythmically against the shore. None of the waves actually reached us, but I was concerned that they could. I barely slept the rest of the night. Although, to be completely honest, the sound of the waves was very cool. Occasionally, I still hear those rhythms in my dreams.

The next morning was wet and cold. We stayed inside until it was time to head back to Lockport. There were games and books that we could play. There were always books around. Sometimes, some of the other guys made fun of me for reading. I loved it. I loved spending time at the lake, playing with friends, swimming, and reading. I will forever be grateful to the Porth/Stuckey family and Mrs. Sterritt for allowing me to take part in their family traditions at the lake.

Ironically, that cottage where I spent so much time is currently owned by one of my bosses at work. She and her husband live there year-round. I find it a little bit funny that even after all these years, I still have a connection to that little house on Lake Ontario, even as tenuous as that connection is. Maybe it is one of my anchor points in space and time. There are many.

Craig Bacon is thankful he has such a great group of friends. Even years later, we can still get together and laugh about our adventures on the lake. And, I’m sorry, Steve, for throwing the dart at you. I confess -- it was me.