Ellen Million (ellenmillion) wrote,
Ellen Million

A Summer Day at Frenchman's Lake

It might have been a dozen days, or only two. Memory being the fallible creature it is, it may have been peppered in with memories of days of unrelated trips.

I remember the weather.

Blue skies, with occasional white clouds floating through like down. It was twice as brilliant for the water - there was no wind to ripple the surface of the lake, so it dazzled from two directions. Miraculously, there were no mosquitoes. I would blame this on faulty childhood memory, it is so astonishing, but my parents still comment on that aspect of the trip, so it must have been true.

I remember the water.

It couldn't have been too early in the season, because the lake wasn't cold in the way that most Northern lakes are - just warm enough to splash around in, trying vainly to catch little fish and constructing floating craft from tree bark and leaves. We had a camping spot a little ways from the rest of the campground, so it was just my sister, my parents, and I, with our own tiny little beach.

We canoed around the lake, exploring tiny coves that opened into unexpected ponds, found little inflowing rivers, and areas where the shallow silt bottom made the water look unrealistically green.

I remember the fish.

Tiny shore-hugging minnows* that made silver flashes in the shallows, all the way to the monstrous 40 lb lake trout a triumphant weekend fisherman showed us at the dock. Schools of trout that fled before the canoe, and would come so close when we were drifting that you'd feel like you could trail a hand over the side and tickle them.

I remember the smells.

Fish grilled over a campfire for breakfast, the sooty smoke of green gathered wood for the fire, the mossy green smell of sun on the forest, the smell of fish and water, and our wet towels hung up to dry on the mirrors of the van.

I remember the sounds.

Squirrels, mostly, but also birds. Once in a while, a far-off vehicle from the main campground; the crunch of gravel under slow-moving tires. Sometimes laughter - the mood was merry at our little site, and Rebecca was reading us Macbeth in the evenings and doing all the different characters with voices. I think we were driving her South to go to college; it was one of our last camping trips together.

It isn't a memory, in the strictest sense - it is a series of barely remembered scenes, too perfect to be true, too flavored with contentment and the idyllic now-ness of childhood to be accurate.

My family and I still speak of that place with fond memories, and threaten to go back some day.

In a lot of ways, I don't want to return to it, ever. I want to keep it the way it is in my brain - strings of perfect little memory-bits.

*They were probably not technically minnows, but what I know about fish you could fit in a coffee cup, so don't expect biological accuracy.

(Posted for the first entry of LJIdol, season 4, vote for me.... um... somewhere. I'll edit this once I've figured it out. Probably tomorrow.)

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