I think of it often. My heart never forgets its pull. In my dreams, it’s just as it always was when I was young. Its imprint on my memory, it’s image like a photograph, burned into my heart. When my eyes close, I see it. There sits a humble cabin on a quiet bay of a picturesque mountain lake.
Every summer of my childhood was spent in heaven, paradise, our own personal Elysium. Every month, week, and day leading up to the summer was spent in heart-aching-anticipation of this special place.
From my earliest memories, I recall the cabin on Coeur d’Alene Lake and it’s profound magic.
The cabin is many things, but mostly it’s…
800 miles of sticky skin on sticky skin, drooling cousins, hot air whipping in through the windows, and knowing it all will not be in vain.
A dark-haired, pig-tailed girl and a toe-headed boy eagerly sharing they are “going to Idaho” to anyone they meet along the way in Idaho who inquires.
The lazy susan that just maybe will reveal Lucky Charms on its next go-round instead of Raisin Bran.
Soft sunlight peppered through the curtains, the sound of familiar voices, the smell of coffee and toast, the feeling of an unburdened soul.
Bud’s Big Burgers and the time someone tagged, “Bud’s Big Boogers” on the side of the building.
The smell of our family’s past in the musty throw pillows and dusty books.
The taste of milk in vintage Harvest Yellow plastic tumblers and powdered Nesquik sprinkled on Darigold vanilla ice cream.
That particular bend in the road as you’re coming from town where the temperature drops ten degrees and you know you’re truly at the lake.
Grandma’s tomato soup with elbow macaroni and the best dried garden herbs from The Herb Lady.
The crystal clear waters that cleanse the soul and clear the mind.
The summer when Return of the Mack was popular and Mom thought Mark Morrison was singing, “We’re Tearing Up the Moon”.
Check out this video on YouTube:
It totally sounds like that, Mom. (No, it doesn’t.)
The sound of a car door on the landing, followed by Uncle Gary’s unmistakable voice, and the exciting knowledge that he’ll either have ingredients for an exotic dish, a new lake floaty, or, even better, a new crazy story.
Water-logged, pruney, sun-drenched skin and a satisfying tiredness that only comes after a day on the lake.
Grandma’s favorite-Julio Iglesias, or Lee Greenwood’s Mornin’ Ride (that we only recently discovered is not about an early morning horse ride) blaring in the car, as we hug the curves around the lake, toward the cabin.
Check out this video on YouTube:
I envisioned an innocent horse ride through a dewy meadow. My brother always thought of a virtuous truck ride in the early morn. When we discovered the true meaning, my mom was appalled and my Grandma never chose to believe it was about a ride in the hay, and by hay, I mean bed.
The smell and presence of Grandpa in the old board games stacked in the closet, the ancient, but clean linens, and the worn gold-colored armchair.
Pool Noodle Ballet in the deep and how that’s the only kind of ballet Mom and I will ever be good at.
Fireworks, reflecting on the water, damp life jackets, and the sound of gentle waves lapping against the boat.
Finally entering the Idaho farmland from the desolate desert drive and feeling the pull of the cabin and the lake in your bones.
The time Uncle Gary lost his teeth in the lake and offered up $20 to whoever found them. That was me.
The tiny Jewel Box Gem Shop in Harrison and the treasures you could find there.
“The Hootie”*, its unpleasant smell, and the time my brother almost lit it on fire, used the Brita water pitcher to put it out, and then dropped the pitcher down the hole.
Butt to butt in the tiny kitchen, the smell of bleach water, and calling dibs on being the dish dryer.
The annual Great Carlin Bay Swim: 42 people belonging to one family, 672 floaties, and a whole lotta racket, echoing off the water of the bay.
The scary night when we almost became a bear’s midnight snack, my heroic grandma and how she scared the garbage-can-digging-by-the-window-creeping bear (It was a dog).
Night swims that sometimes turn into skinny dipping, and the time the neighbors came home and turned on all of their 8,000 lights. Mom and Aunt Dana are still pruney in places.
The sound of a faraway boat, speeding down the channel. The creaking of Grandma’s hanging Rattan chair, and her melodious humming as she stares, her blue eyes a perfect reflection of the water.
There are so many more things that make the cabin what it is and was to every member of my family. I don’t know why I was suddenly inspired to write a post about my summers spent on Coeur d’Alene Lake. Maybe it’s because I haven’t been in many years and I feel the pull of it in my bones and I crave a swim in its cleansing waters. That must be it.
*”The Hootie” is our very fancy outhouse. It comes complete with its own deck, curtained-window, built-in magazine rack, and a very intricate ventilation system that Uncle Gary jerry-rigged together after a particularly hot and smelly summer.