On Vacation with Martha's Family

An unusual adventure for Katy and Jos.

written July, 1967

Dear Nephew Ray,

Would you believe we are cottagers for a week? Martha's son, Martin, and his family invited us to share their vacation and after a few moments consideration, we threw discretion to the winds, packed our bags, and here we are. And enjoying every minute of it, too.

There is a wide, screened veranda across the front of the cottage. This morning we sat there watching sailboats race on the choppy waters. A fresh breeze filled the sails, occasionally causing them to dip perilously close to the waves, whereupon one or two figures would pop up on the boat's up-tipped side and bring it back to balance as it swept into the wind.

I have no idea who won. Sailboat races have always been an inconclusive mystery to me, but the silent running craft with their bellied sails seem much more appropriate to the setting than do frantic, raucous power boats.

I awoke sometime last night, it was light enough to see everything except my watch, and spent a few minutes looking out the window. The lake was silent and smooth. Trees stood like unmoving black lace fans against the grey-blue sky. The night-watcher bullfrogs were kerlung-ung-unging in the water-lily studded inlet nearby. I thought of the people who had known and loved this lake, added myself to their number, smiled contentedly in the darkness and went back to sleep.

Martha's eleven year old granddaughter Barby who had mourned having to leave her dog at home, has found herself a native pet. 'His' name is Freddie the Frog and he, surprisingly enough, seems also to enjoy her company. He swims happily into her hands and lets her carry him around, sits waiting for her at the water's edge, and plays with her in the shallows. Barby says he likes being rubbed under his chin and he stares in friendly, unwinking bliss into her face when she pets him.

Barby also holds the title of First Fish Catcher. Her eldest brother bewails, in a good-natured way, that she with a bamboo pole and half a worm, managed what he with his twelve dollar rod and fancy lure failed to accomplish. It was too small a fish to keep but it was the first caught and that's what counts.

Wildlife abounds in the woodsy environs of the cottage. Chipmunks scamper in the back yard and perch on a rotting tree stump surveying their domain. They are the most engaging little creatures. I've always wished I could hold one in my hands without causing it to have heart failure or alternately, bite my finger to the bone.

About nine last evening I glanced toward the spruce tree that stands with beautifully symmetrical, thickly layered branches near the corner of the veranda and discovered another little creature. A very young brown rabbit was enjoying a mixed salad of clover and dandelion leaves, completely unconcerned with our human chatter. Martha has saved carrot scrapings to put out for him tonight.

A quick-moving rain storm swept the lake just after lunch. Heralded by thunder, it danced from south to north, leaving about as much water behind as one swing of a sprinkling can and hardly affecting the temperature at all. The brisk attendant winds whipped the lake to a cheerful froth and have stayed on to play with its waves, tossing splashes of water on to the grassy shore with all the light-hearted abandon of an infant in his bath.

The young people are swiming and sunbathing on the float. The men are fishing or working on their tackle. Several careless worms who came out to go shopping or attend a meeting after the rain, were pressed into service as bait. Martha, her daughter-in-law Ethel, and Aunt Katy are allowed to relax in the lawn chairs, watch water skiers, swimmers, and fishermen, and plan the next meal. The next meal seems to come more often than usual here.

Martin has set up his grill and will be cooking hot dogs, Italian sausage, and hamburgers on it for supper. I made a chicken and macaroni salad which will be easier on our elderly digestions and there are all kinds of fresh vegetables for a salad. We'll all brave the evening mosquitos and tiny no-see-ums to eat at the picnic table beside the water. Laughter is as good a "digestive" as Tums and we have plenty of laughter in this group.

Martha plans a trip back home tomorrow to collect a few articles to augment our cookware and cutlery. The young people think it fun to share a knife and choose between a fork or spoon with which to eat but the rest of us prefer a complete silver service.

"Anyone who comes to visit us at meal time will have to bring his own dishes and silver," Barby said as she set the table for lunch.

"And a dish to pass," added her father with a grin, finishing the traditional church supper directions.

Martha has decided she needs her pressure cooker and that she cannot function in a kitchen for a week without her slotted spoon. As a matter of fact, she has complied quite a list of "we could use" items as well as a sizable grocery list. The cookie jar is empty after a day and a half of being raided by four starving youngsters, and potato chips, cereal, and crackers simply evaporate. Everything tastes especially good when spiced by lake air and when appetites are stimulated by more exercise than usual.

Ethel presented me with a "conservative" bathing suit and is joined by her off-spring in urging me to don it and come swimming with them. I am tempted to, should the wind subside and the day be warm enough.

(What next, Aunt Katy?" says Nephew Ray.)

I don't know but you may rest assured there'll be something.

Until there IS something new to report, Uncle Jos sends regards as do I,

Your Aunt Katy