They beautifully sum up the joy of cabin living.

By Christy Heitger-Ewing

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It was that delicious portion of a steamy summer afternoon, and I – a 16-year-old with pink, prickled skin, ‘lobster-fied’ by the day’s intense rays – was in heaven. Oh, how I adored this fleeting late-day sliver of time when strong winds gave way to a gentle breeze, a soothing stillness settled into the air and a happy harmony filled the cove.

My parents had gone inside to start dinner, but I remained on the dock with my border collie Bonnie. After hoisting myself up onto the silver air mattress, I dreamily floated the cove, my eyes fluttering to consciousness each time subtle waves smacked the buoy. Bonnie whimpered from shore, keeping careful watch beneath a shade tree.

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I flipped onto my belly, nuzzling my nose into the crevice of the air mattress pillow and inhaling a familiar mix of vinyl and Coppertone. I began paddling toward shore, my lips touching the water as I blew soft bubbles like a mini outboard motor. When I returned to the dock, Bonnie greeted me with bountiful kisses that said, “I never want this moment to end.”

Fast forward to a more recent cabin memory from just a few years ago. I recall a brisk fall day when my family was driving back to the cabin after spending the afternoon in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. My sons were getting antsy, so we stopped beside a bridge that overlooked a valley of oak, hickory, poplar and maple trees, all bursting with vivid autumn foliage.

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After snapping a few pictures of the colorful rolling landscape, we glanced to the opposite side of the road and caught a peek of Lake Michigan. A steep path led down to the shoreline, so we followed it, eager to explore a new portion of cabin country. The air was still on the wooded trail, but when we emerged from the protection of the mighty pines, a biting wind nearly knocked us over.

Waves rolled in with aggressive intensity. A thick maze of clouds zig-zagged to and fro, as if engaged in a fierce game of tug-of-war. The mesmerizing sky, bursting with vibrant hues, resembled a painter’s drop cloth after a long day’s work.

The water, like a tractor beam, pulled my children near. I hollered not to get too close, but before the full directive exited my lips, they were drenched from the waist down. Through giggles and shivers, my older son announced, “I never want this moment to end!”
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That same giddy sensation washes over me every time I watch my sons frolic in the water. Last summer, my 6-year-old waded into waist-deep water to navigate his fleet of toy boats. For two solid hours, he ferried his plastic pontoons, PWCs and sailboats between our dock and our neighbor’s, clutching them with his red, wrinkled fingers.

As the day grew dim, a handful of fireflies hovered near the water’s edge, blinking on and off like a stoplight at an early-morning intersection. The crackling campfire kept hungry mosquitoes at bay, while puffs of smoke slowly sailed southerly. All the while, I sat perched on the wooden swing watching my sweet boy spin, squeal and produce “vroom-vroom” sounds with his lips.

I glanced up as a power boat skimmed the outskirts of the cove, creating robust waves that morphed into soft ripples by the time they reached the shoreline.

The sinking sun played peekaboo with the muddled clouds on the horizon, while my son splashed with abandon, his tiny frame outlined in a shadow of bliss. As I observed the pure joy emanating from his soul, I whispered into the breeze, “I never want this moment to end.”

When I share such precious memories with other cabin people, they nod knowingly because it’s these glorious golden moments that make up the very fabric of cabin living.

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Christy Heitger-Ewing thinks that if everyone could experience life at a cabin, the world would be a happier place.