Sunday, May 29, 2005

Rural Lake Beginnings

If a mile-high snowman were tipped backwards and melted in the hot sun, you would a fair outline of the lake I grew up on.

Place a three bedroom house at the very base of the snowman's feet, plop six kids in the house with their quarrelsome and alcoholic parents, point the windows of the house in a Westerly direction overlooking the panorama of the rest of the lake, and you have a sense of where on the lake we lived. Now take your left hand and hold it away from you, looking at the back of your hand. Envision your hand as a map of the State of Michigan, and place the lake I've described at the base of your left pinky finger. Fifteen miles from the nearest small town in any one direction, you now have yourself a Rural Lake.

One doesn't hear much in the way of romanticism about Rural Lakes, outside of, perhaps, a Hemingway short story. This is for good reason. For now, I will mention only a couple of items about life on a such a lake. First, there are two kinds of people that live the Rural Lake existence: the backwoods equivalent of a townie who lives on the lake all year long, and his counterpart, the spoiled "cottage" dwellers, who come to the lake during the summer and actually enjoy being there. Second, growing up at the Eastern base of a Rural Lake in Michigan is a cold existence, even in the summer, when temperatures reach, at best, the mid-70's. While not precisely akin to the moors of Wuthering Heights, there is nevertheless a certain chill one catches when growing up on such a spot. Some would argue that, once caught, that chill never really goes away.

Finally, on my particular Rural Lake, after the summer people were gone and the storms came in full force, a premium, by necessity, was placed on fending for oneself. I am not alluding here to the weather.