Growing up in Houston and my family spent most of our summers at our small lake cottage north of Houston across from what is now Lake Conroe.
This was a small private lake, but big enough for water skiing and lots of fishing. My best description would be that it was an “On Golden Pond” spot. Surrounded by tall pine trees and wooded areas.
There was a small island at one end of the lake that had been roped off for swimmers. Families would dock their boats at the island. There were a few picnic tables under a shady pavilion, a diving board and long dock to lay and bake in the summer sun. The homes were all modest and the lake was small enough that we grew to know all of the families that had summer homes surrounding this little bit of heaven.
I grew up with my father teaching me to gig frogs along the dam’s bank, learning to drive our little red boat, waterskiing and tromping through the woods that surrounded Lake Forest Falls, and discovering that I have an undying love of all water, fresh or salt.
Every chance we got, which was often, as it was then an hour drive from door to door, I would take my best friend and next door neighbor Patty Sanders along with me. Patty had long blond hair and fair skin, I the dark haired, equally fair skinned child. It never failed that every first summer trip to the lake Patty and I would hit the water with old black tire inner tubes and bake ourselves to a crisp. The next few days would find us lobster red and blistered, hiding from any chance that ray of that painful sun would touch our raw red skin. All the while we sat inside covered in Noxema and bored to tears.
The teen years at the lake were so fun. We quickly discovered “lake boyfriends” and their “fast boats.” Our numbers grew as more of my high school friends joined the hot fun in the
summertime at Lake Forest Falls.
summertime at Lake Forest Falls.
By college, my parents bought a little nicer, larger home on the other side of the lake. Still a modest cabin, this home sat on a large sloping grassy lawn right on the lake. Large trees with swings and hammocks shaded yard. We had an outdoor shower that was used all year round, there was something so wonderful about taking a hot shower surrounded by trees and woods!
The family grew and before long there were seven grandchildren that also grew to love this secluded spot. I was the only sister not living in Houston, but every summer I would make the drive from Midland with Brent and Brooke to spend about 10 days at the lake.
The cousins loved having their Papaw tell them stories of the bears and Indians living deep in the woods. They would disappear for hours going on explorations and creating adventures that come only when you can lose yourself in the dim quite of nature. My mother would spend hours in the kitchen preparing the most delicious meals for “all her chickens.” Never do I remember her as happy as she was when we were all together.
I taught most of the cousins to ski on that little lake. Waking up in those early morning hours of the summer the lake was smooth as glass. We would bound down to the boat and take off. Each year, as the kids grew, the skiing became a little more advanced as did our hours on that boat.
As I had summers before, my children were now experiencing late afternoons when my father would appear with an ice cold watermelon. We would sit at that ancient splintered picnic table on the water’s edge and devour those cold melons. Afterward my father would sneakily appear with hose in hand. Shrieking laughter and lots of running, all would be soon soaked to the core, leaving us no other option that to run to the little pebble beach my parents had created, and jump back into the lake, swimming until dinner time.
If ever asked where the happiest hours of my life had been spent, my reply is always Lake Forest Falls. I loved sharing my happiest childhood memories with my children and watching them discover and share that same joy.
I watched my parents enjoying the lake, working in the yard, fixing the dock, cutting tree limbs, burning leaves in the Fall. I also watched as my parents grew old and frail, yet continued to love going to the lake, if to do nothing more than simply sit and soak in the simple beauty of it all.
My mother kept the lake for several years after my father died. We would go with her from time to time, but his absence was too prevalent and soon the decision was made to sell the house.
Steve and I spent three days cleaning out the debris of years spent in that home...my treasures, my sweetest memories, in a way a bit of my soul were packed up and hauled off. We thought about buying it, or keeping it in the family, but at the time, it seemed too difficult. I think that is one of my biggest regrets.
This time every year, I find myself longing to be in that warm, comforting, very special corner of the world. I want nothing more than to sit on the water’s edge in the early morning or around dusk, dangling my feet in the water. I want to soak in every memory, every moment of those days that passed too quickly. I want to listen the laughter of my children, hear the echo of my parent’s voices, smell the aromas of breakfast or dinner being cooked out on the grill. I want to let that warm outdoor shower water run from my head to down to my feet...but life has a way of moving on and that bit of heaven can only be a memory now.
I want to take the time to go back and again. I feel this summer just may be a good time to renew that part of my soul with those sweet memories of the past. I wonder what I will find? I wonderful if I will be able to conjure up those precious pieces of my past? Will my memories be able to serve as the balm I’m so wanting?
They say you can’t go back home again, but I’m willing to give it a try, just once more.
For what it’s worth,
Joshua 24:15 “But for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”