Sunday, June 7, 2009
As mentioned in my 1967 Dodge Polara story, my family would travel to Lake Kabetogama in Voyageurs National Park every June for a week of fishing. We would rent a small cabin at Park Point Resort or Deerhorn Resort. Deerhorn as been totally remodeled in the years since - it looks nothing like the place we stayed.
Now mind you, when we say "resort" we mean an extremely small cabin with the smallest beds imaginable, nails or hooks in the wall for your clothes, about 2 square feet of counter space, an apt sized stove/oven, and just enough room in the living space to change your mind. All had those behemoth gas heaters in the living room and teeny bathrooms that had been added in the late 1960's or early 1970's - in other words don't drop your soap in the shower because you'll have to step out and bend over to reach it.
The first several years our "resort" had only a central bathhouse with toilets, and of course you brought your own bath towels from home. We thought it was adventurous to walk down the dirt road to take a shower. To this day, the smell of Pine Sol brings it all back. I'm sure my mother didn't relish having to escort any of four kids every 30 minutes. In fact, not much about it was a vacation for my Mom - she still cooked, washed dishes, watched kids, etc. She deserved every single stolen second on that lake.
My parents lived to fish. Alternating childcare with my Aunt Mary or Grandma Gie, they would go out on the Lake with their husband and fish for hours at a time, and I mean HOURS. If you went along, they sternly warned you there would be no coming back until they were good and ready. They would leave at dawn, come in for lunch, then go back out until 8pm. We'd have glorious fried walleye for supper at 9:00 at night - that far north the sun was just setting.
How lucky we were to have Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and cousins to vacation with! Us kids could play for hours in the freezing cold lake. It was too cold in early June to swim (but good for fishing!) so we'd play on the rocks, put salt on leeches, catch minnows, fish from the dock, or feed the chipmunks.
The memories are so thick from those days on the lake. One foggy morning, my Dad took only me, probably about 10 years old, out for a morning of fishing. At one point, the fog grew so thick that we couldn't see further than about 2 feet from the boat. Dad powered down the Evinrude and we washed up against a large rock. You could hear the other fishermen laughing "Where the hell are we?", "I can't see a goddamn thing!". Dad just shrugged and said we might as well start fishing. So this 10-year-old girl had her Daddy all to herself, swaying in the fishing boat, talking about life and laughing about the fog.
In the years since, when I was living in Southern Iowa, a cool cloudy day would come along in June and we'd call it "Kabetogama Weather". When it was summer on the calendar but it felt like late September outside. I'd happily put on a sweatshirt and enjoy a cup of coffee, knowing it would heat up with high humidity the very next day.
But now that I live only 6 hours south of Kabetogama, I don't enjoy that weather so much. Summers in Minnesota are drop-dead beautiful but they ARE fleeting, and I don't want one day from June 1st to August 31st to be wasted. Rain I'll take, but not 50 degrees on top of it. But it does stir up some fine memories.