Passing Along Memories
A mother’s legacy for her daughters
March 1, 2008
Running barefoot through cool grass, mindful of nibbling bees on fresh clover flowers. Stopping all activities to hear a loon call across a calm lake that reflected puffy, popcorn clouds. Having “Dad Time” near the snapping and popping of a campfire started at dusk.
The author, in front, with her mother, Mary, niece, DaNeil, and her sister, Keke.
Photo by Gina Chiodi Grensing
These are some of the memories I hold dear from my childhood cabin. I was 4 years old when my cabin life started. I still remember the cold Naugahyde on my legs from the chair in the real estate office where I sat, waiting while my parents signed the papers that would begin my introduction to outdoor living. I am 43 now and hope to someday give my daughters that same type of experience.
I want my girls to hear the screen door bang shut in the morning, as they scurry on their way to their adventures … to feel the hot sun on their backs, as they watch, for an hour or more, the ants build houses in the sand driveway … to go swimming with a salt shaker and a ho-hum attitude about leeches.
My parents’ cabin was a one-room, square box with a flat roof. It eventually gained two interior walls to form a bedroom. And every spring, we set to airing it out for the season. Then my dad would begin his work commutes from there, and my mom would set up housekeeping for us all to live at the cabin for those three long and glorious summer months.
It is those days that stretch out forever, and the nights that are so dark you can see a million stars, which I long for my daughters to experience. I want my girls to catch countless panfish in one sitting … to vigilantly watch and grab up worms as the earthy clumps of bare garden patches are turned over … to bait their own hooks, unafraid of wiggly worms and slime … and finally, to gently remove their catches from the hook and set them free to swim away.
When I was 14, my parents decided it was time to improve in the cabin sector. They sold the place that held thousands of memories and upgraded to a larger cabin on a larger lake. Over time, it became my parents’ retirement home. And though it was over 2,000 square feet, had three bedrooms, two bathrooms, four decks and was their year-round home, it was still referred to as “The Cabin.” (Our first cabin was then referred to as, “the old cabin.”) Thousands more memories were made at The Cabin, until out of necessity it was sold.
But someday, I am going to have a cabin. So my girls can pick chokecherries for jelly, nap in a hammock, fly kites on a frozen lake and eventually slip between cool sheets while listening to the breeze in the pine trees through an open window; exhausted from a full day of fun, of adventure, of living and learning outdoors.
Gina Chiodi Grensing is still actively looking for a rustic cabin, but in the meantime her girls have been getting used to outdoor life via camping.
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