If these floors could talk they’d probably say (in their merriest, sing-song voice) “Hey there! Welcome back old friend.” The whole place would jump off it's comfortable stool to grab me in a long, tight familiar hug, and we would reminisce.
“I remember when you were fourteen: all skinny and curious, and quiet, wanting so much to talk to everyone, but lacking self-assurance. You listened to Styx and grilled pizzas over an open flame in pie irons. You washed sand off sunburn in the outside shower under the clear sky and lowering sun. You sat in outdoor stadium seats for a movie and walked along the dark road back to Gypsy with flashlights off. Just the stars to guide the way.
Remember when you were sixteen: gangly and uncertain, renting row boats and jumping off the swim platform into my cold dark lake? You were skinnier than ever following a two-week flu, listening to Supertramp and playing volleyball in the sand. The boys all liked your friends and you felt invisible. Your aunt let you, your sister, and friends hitch a ride back to the cabin. You tried your first cigarette here. Don’t think I didn’t notice.
When you were eighteen your boyfriend with the cool shades met up at the beach. Didn't you come back one weekend with the girls before everyone left for college? That's right there was plenty of Rod Stewart, Cat Stevens, beer, matching red union suits, and a deck of cards. The young park rangers took you guys to a party and hung out at your cabin almost too long. Not that most of you minded. Remember how it was so cold that you slept in every layer of clothing possible, including a parka?
Many years passed before you came to see me again.
This time came a different you: a cheerful twenty-eight-year-old, confident, witty young woman, who still looked every bit a girl. You came with [not a boy, but] a handsome young guy and his friends. It was autumn this time, as was his custom. There were do-rags and lots of flannel. Remember The Wolfgang Press and Two Nice Girls? Didn't you drive in to town to the Oktoberfest tents? It rained and it snowed.
The next year you returned with him and his friends. By the camp fire he gave the gift of a flannel shirt and a pair wool socks. Said it was cold where he was moving and that he wanted to make a life together.
Until today, your last visit was the following year. You had been married the month before. His friends were your friends.
Just look at you now! A grown woman, in your forties, (with him now a man indeed!) bringing bikes and first-timers. They are every bit as awed by my charms, I see. Look how they poke the smoking coal with sticks 'til it re-ignites, just the way you did. Watch them sneak off between the cabins to establish passwords, and stare into the dark trees wondering what, if any, wildlife might be watching them back.
You seem different again: not lacking candor, but contemplative. Has your voice changed? There's a touch of melancholy; your loneliness is palpable. How can this be when you’re embraced by my crisp leaves, green cabins, wood smoke, and red embers? Are we not kindred spirits? Is there anything more restorative than my crackling golden flames, a night chill and the constellations?”
And I would answer: I have always liked history and I am glad that you are a part of mine.