Summer Memories in the Dark of Winter

I've been a water girl since I was a kid. I remember learning how to navigate a boat dock in my very early years--you know, how to balance getting into the boat without slipping between dock and boat and into the water. My sister and I would fish for bluegill, laying on our bellies on the dock to pull them up, look at their pretty scales, and then release them. We also learned to fish off the banks and "creek fish" if that is such a term. This was all stuff we did with my dad.

Family fishing - Depositphotos_223819174
When I turned fifteen, dad asked if I intended to keep fishing with him now that I was older. I hadn't thought that I wouldn't--but I think he saw the signs of boys taking up more of my time, and wondered if fishing would go by the wayside. He said, "Well, I'm going to have to buy a license for you when you turn 16." Turns out he didn't have to buy that license and our fishing days pretty much ended.

Sometimes I regret that--but when you're fifteen, life is different.

My mom was the beach bunny. She'd pack us up, haul us to a nearby beach where she'd meet her friends, and we kids would all play in the lake and sand all day, under the watchful eyes of the moms. Sand in our swimsuit bottoms. Water up our noses. Sunburns on our shoulders.

We loved it.

When I was in the eighth grade, the Army Corp of Engineers built a dam about five miles from where we lived, which created a huge lake and recreational area. The beach went in the next year and back then, we all boasted that it was the largest inland beach in the state of Ohio. It still could be, I don't know. That was over 40 years ago.

But throughout high school in the summer, we were there. Every day. So was my mom, most days, but no longer were we under her watchful eye--my sister and I were somewhere else trying to catch the eyes of the lifeguards. Those were steamy, fun-filled, lazy, and unforgettable summer days. I treasure the memories. Mostly I wish that I could still fit in my bikini--sort of. 

College came and went. So did marriages and divorces. And babies, and later on grandbabies. Beaches, however, were a constant. I passed the love of water--and the beach--on to my progeny. While my kids and I spent our share of time at the lake--my parents owned a lake house by then--I also introduced them to the ocean. After 20+ years of ocean beach vacations, when any of us say we are "heading to the beach" we know exactly the one we are talking about.