This time of year the summer gets thick with memories like fruit ripening. I didn’t go out to Lake Johanna to swim this year. Usually I paddle around with cries and laughter of kids around me and drive home still wet with my windows open, feeling the wind in my hair. I keep my bathing suit on at home for awhile and enjoy the freshness. But this summer has been a relatively cool one. I only swam once, at our family’s northern lake cabin. And even then I had to acclimate myself slowly to the water, inch by inch. Once I was used to it though, it felt wonderful. I drew my arms and legs slowly through the clear water of that little gem of a lake I’ve loved for most of my life and that seems to love me back.
I met a neighbor friend out on a walk with my dog last night. She looked tan. She’s a teacher, so her summers are pretty full of travel. I, on the other hand have been mostly here, not having the money to go very far.
The one place I do go every summer is to my sister Anne’s home in Janesville, Wisconsin. My son Nate used to be there too with his cousins. Now in his twenties he only comes for reunions or weddings. This year my niece Lizzy got married. On Sunday afternoon after a lot of the wedding guests had left, I lay on the couch with the murmur of a few voices in the background, reflecting on my sister’s house. Why has it always been such a place of peace and comfort for me, comparable only to my Grandparents house from childhood? The house itself is old and spacious. It has a wide front porch that is nice to sit on and large breezy windows by this comfortable couch perfect for naps. I realized that the sense of safety I get here comes from being with my tribe. As much as we long to get away to Hawaii or somewhere, I think we humans have an even stronger need to sink into a nest of family or well known friends.