When I think of Lake Louise, Michigan (aka: Thumb Lake) it brings back a wave of mysterious, mischievous and marvelous memories…
I am eight years old and swimming with my sisters and cousins in our spring-fed playground. The water is cool and refreshing on my lips and face and when I open my eyes it is crystal clear.
“I dare you to sit in the old rowboat!” one of my cousins challenges.
The “old rowboat” is a boat that my uncles sank with rocks when they were young and now rests in its watery grave just off my great-aunt’s dock. It is green with algae and a little rotten. It is cold and creepy down there.
“BAH! I just got splinters in my bum!” I yell as I come up from the water. In reality, I’ve just seen a pirate ghost and after some debate as to whether to intrude on his ship, I decide to resurface ASAP!
…It is winter now and the lake is covered in a sheet of ice. My crew and I trudge up our sledding hill and take our places on the same toboggan that my mother used when she was small. This afternoon we are the Jamaican Bobsled Team and we are ready to take home the gold.
“Lean left! Lean right!” my cousin Lizzy cries.
We tilt our bodies and cling to the sled, to the person in front of us, or to the air, as we plummet once again into the tall snow bank, one turn from the bottom. On our march back up the hill we discuss what went wrong, point fingers, strategize and decide to call it a day after one more run…
Today I am a 26-year-old graduate student, living 1,741 miles away from My Lake. One might assume that when I visit Lake Louise at this stage in my life, I see it through the eyes of a mature woman, but they would be wrong. This place renews the child in me. It is a place of vivid memories and imagination. It is my place. It is me.