Thursday, July 4, 2013

the fourth.

the fourth of july has been my favorite holiday for pretty much my whole life. growing up, we spent all but maybe two independence days in chetek, wisconsin at my grandpa's lake house. when i was little and we lived in st. louis, missouri, we'd make the 10-12 hour drive every summer to be in chetek for all of the liberty fest activities. some of my best memories as a kid were spent on the chetek chain of lakes- swimming, jetskiing, fishing, lighting off fireworks.

the streets in town lined with chairs for the parade
my grandpa's house was right on the lake and my brother ryan and i would roll down the hill and right into the lake to go swimming. we'd look for "oysters" (clam shells) and test the boundaries by swimming just past the edge of the boathouse. my dad would take us out in a boat to go "turtle hunting." we had our big net ready and would troll through smelly, algae-covered bays searching for unsuspecting turtles sunning themselves on fallen logs. most of the time we'd end up with quite a collection of turtles by the end of the "hunt" and were allowed to bring them home. we'd put dots of nail polish on their shells and then release them, hoping that we'd maybe catch the same one the next year. i don't think that ever happened, primarily because i highly doubt a tiny dot of nail polish would stay on a turtle shell for a whole year. but, hey, we put in a solid effort.

we'd rent a jetski for one day each summer and spend most of the day out on the water, begging my dad to go faster and hit the waves at full speed. one year my dad was finally able to convince my mom (who'd just finished washing, drying and curling her hair) to go for a "gentle" ride on the jetski. two minutes into the ride my dad took a sharp turn and flipped them both off the jetski. ryan and i (and my dad) thought it was hilarious but my mom, not so much. another year, a distant relative was up in chetek for the summer and had two brand new jetskis. they let us borrow them to go out for a spin, so my dad drove ryan on one and my mom drove me on the other. when coming back, my mom lost control when we were coming in to park the jetski since you can't really steer when you slow way down. we crashed (going fairly slow, at least) into the boathouse, scratching up the brand new jetski AND the boathouse door. my mom still hasn't lived that one down... i guess my mom's fourth of july memories probably aren't as fond as ours ;-)

one other great memory is setting off our own fireworks before the big fireworks display. we'd buy a huge variety pack of random fireworks and ryan and i would take turns choosing what was lit next. my grandma, (one of the most gentle, timid, soft-spoken people you'd ever meet, for the record) had a big birdhouse by the lake where several purple martens would come make their nests each spring. one year my dad and uncle scott got the bright idea to throw a firecracker in the birdhouse and scare off the birds. i've never seen my grandma so mad in my whole life. and the martens didn't come back to her birdhouse until several years later...

the fourth carries with it these and many more great memories. a lot has changed, especially over the last several years. my grandma and grandpa have both passed away, just last year my parents bought a new house on the lake, ryan and i have both gotten married, and joe and i now have a baby. it has been such a joy to be able to make new memories in chetek with jeanie and joe. i think they love the fourth at the lake almost as much as we do now. this will be bennett's first of what i hope to be a lifetime of fourths of july at the cabin, and i can't wait to start building his memories there.

fourth of july 2010
happy fourth of july!

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