Summer always held a fascination for me. It was that time of year when you got up really too early and played all day, barely eating a meal since you were thoroughly distracted.

My family would always make our way to this beautiful place where we would camp every year. Sometimes we would sleep in a tent, sometimes we were in a cottage. I still remember those cottages, different colored doors, red, blue or purple. Each had three rooms with a bed and small dresser, there was a kitchen, dining table and a small washroom. My parents took one room which left two, sometimes it would be my sister and I in one room and my brother in the last. Sometimes though my grandmother would come and so I ended up sharing a room with my brother, which is one thing I try and forget, that and the daddy long leg spiders that seemed to live with us in the cottage.

Just out back of the cottage was the lake, it called to me. My parents tell a story of how as a small child they couldn’t keep me out of the water and had to watch me every moment. Apparently I once wadded into the water, the cold water, with all my clothes on. It was later on that I learned to wear a bathing suit.

Beyond the lake was what brought us to this beautiful place, the sand dunes. Massive hills of golden sand reaching toward the sky. We spent our days playing in the park, swimming in the lake and roaming around those dunes. By night-time we would be tired and waterlogged, my mother would get us into our track suits, mine was gray with pink cuffs and a picture of smurfette on it, and my father would try to make a fire. Eventually he would get it going and we would sit around it roasting marshmallows, having previously found the roasting sticks in one of our hunts for the perfect stick contests. We would laugh and sing until it was almost time to sleep. Next, us kids would gather on the couch next to our mother as she read us a story, then it was time to sleep. The next day we would wake up really early to start all over again.

Every year my dad would rent one of those small aluminium boats with the tiny motor on the back. He would get us all ready and we would spend the day out on the lake fishing. My sister and I were a bit squeamish of the worms, which always came in a small styrofoam bowl topped with a plastic lid sporting tiny air holes. My father would bait our hooks and we would cast our small rods, with the bobbers and wait for a nibble. We would wait and wait, then someone would feel something, my father would rush to their side to help, careful not to tip the boat, and the fish would be reeled in. My father never ate fish which passed down to my sister and I, thus our house never saw fish as a meal. It now occurs to me that fact makes fishing a bit senseless, since we only did the catch and release thing, but before releasing it the proud fisherman who had caught it would hold it up high and with a wide grin have their picture taken with the fish. Our family albums are littered with toothless grins holding up tiny sunfish, but we had fun and that is what had mattered.

One negative aspect to those summers was that we often made friends with girls who were camping there, but after a week or two they would leave, never to be seen again. This is a traumatic event for a six year old and I remember my parents trying to comfort me, telling me there would be other friends next year. I was, of course, skeptical, but the next year would arrive and sure enough new friends were found. The times we had in that special place are ones I will remember for a life time. The walks over hot sand dunes, the endless days of swimming in the pristine land and the family outings we would embark upon.

Over the years the sand dunes have become more overgrown with vegetation, the water has become polluted and the trailer park has been taken over as a public beach. My parents still have a trailer on the lake, and we still visit, but it will never be the same again. Though all the vegetation and pollution can never wipe away the memories we have of those summers, they are ours to keep and treasure.

By: Beverly Beekmans (April, 2001)

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