Kentucky Places: The Lake

Not Kentucky Lake. Not Barkley Lake. Not even Land Between the Lakes.

Every summer my family goes to just "The Lake."

Going to The Lake for my mother meant spending her childhood at my great-grandparents' lake house. She and my father married on their sloping lawn in a simple ceremony during the heat of summer. My childhood memories weren't experienced from the shore but on the water itself. Every Fourth of July was celebrated on my great-uncle's house boat The Paper Doll. The waves would rock us back and forth until I could feel them laying in bed that same evening back on solid ground.

The house boat is long gone. Now, my family's headquarters is back on the shore. My grandmother and great-aunt and uncle have built another lake house. Again, just "the lake house" where we spend every major holiday until the house is shuttered up for the winter. We have a pontoon boat and spend the summer jumping off the rock quarry or docked on one of the small sandy beaches. We spend the evenings on the deck eating (and eating and eating), talking, or playing games.

My own children will now have memories of The Lake. (After being told we were going to Meema's lake house, he now just calls it "Meema's Lake.") I took a group of friends to the lake house for one weekend this summer. Between us, we had six kids ranging in ages from 4 months to 6 years. They spent all day swimming, riding on the boat, hunting frogs. One described it as the best day of his life. Another asked his mother if God would let him live there in heaven.

The Lake has that effect on people.