The end of season walk is quieter, more contemplative, than those during the heat of summer. In the summer, many others are encountered and conversations -- some brief, some less so -- are not uncommon. The October walk, especially on a weekday, finds that one is often alone.
My favorite walk route takes me down to the public beach, eight-tenths of a mile away, and through my favorite stretch, Wah Wah Soo. I pass the cottage where my mother and her sisters spent their summers, and, until we bought our cottage down the road when I was 13, our whole-family place. My cousins are there now and for years we grew up together every summer.
I still think of it as the ancestral home, having been in our family for 100 years this season.
I'll sometimes stop on my way back to take a break, sitting at the picnic table facing the lake or on the break wall. I did so on this early October day. What did I see?
No, no ducks or eagles or geese or even people. I "saw " the tree where we would swing on an iron chain, jumping from the break wall down onto the sandy beach. (That tree was trimmed this year, the chain no more. And that's a good thing!) I would "see" my mother and her best friend, Fran, eager to jump in the lake, patiently posing for a photo.
And, I would "see" my mom and dad, just introduced to this spot, posing on the beach. Oh, how they loved being up north!
I would "see" my cousin Patty and I making our sand bakery creations -- Deet's Treats and Patty Cake Shop. Look closely and be afraid, for there was David, now a teenager, pummelling us with the forceful spray of the boat pump as we shrieked and tried to get away -- but not too hard! I would "see" us burying one another in the sand. And I would "see" our collie, Major, lumbering down the beach as my mom, my aunt and us kids sat on the beach. He chewed his way out of the front door of our just-constructed porch a half mile away that even my dad hadn't seen. I "saw" us as children.
I "saw" my cousin David and me sitting on the break wall as toddlers, inseparable as children.
And I "saw" us all in the lake, playing. Because that's what you do when you're a kid. All day, every day.
I "saw" family gatherings on that beach, gatherings that continued after my mother and my aunt had died.
I "saw" my dad and my uncle, always good friends, and now companions in readjustment, who shared the loss of their wives.
And I "saw" David, his wife, Bonnie, and I standing in the lake in a circle as we dropped the ashes of Iris, the oldest sister, into the waters of the lake she loved.
I "saw" new generations and new people join our family. First, David brought Bonnie into the fold. A few years later they were joined by Heather and, later, Joe.
Mutty brought Howard into the family, and then Mark...
... and Jeff.
And, I "see" the newest generations who have been introduced to this spot and on whose shoulders the future depends.
In her book, "It's Hard Being You," Sharon Emery writes "I urge my children to belong to a place, somewhere to which they feel a deep connection. Where they can say, “In this moment, this is me on this earth, and this is where I belong.”
I cannot visit this spot without seeing much of my life pass in front of my eyes. It is no longer my lake home.
But it will always be the place that owns me.