My wife and I are in our hometown of Bloomsburg, PA to visit some friends and family. Yesterday I decided my daughter, Madeline, and I were going to go out for a little adventure … I originally thought we’d go up to Bloomsburg University and bounce around a bit. I grew up really close to the University (then Bloomsburg State College) and spent a ton of time roaming the buildings, climbing onto the roofs of buildings, and just causing general trouble. Both of my parents were members of the University’s faculty so I was there more than most kids. Madeline and I went up to Nelson Field House to try and play in the gym … we got in, ran around, and looked at all sorts of stuff. I think her highlight was seeing the enormous swimming pool from the basement through the judge’s observation windows underwater. That sort of blew her mind.
As any 4 year old, she wanted more and I thought we should head out to Fishing Creek to the cottage I spent every summer at growing up. The Creek, as we called it, was our summer cabin. Both my parents had their summers off (other than the occasional class to teach here or there), so we would move out to the Creek as soon as my little sister and I got out of school in June and would live there until some time in September when the mornings were so cold you’d have to eat breakfast wrapped up in your blankets at the bar. The Creek was an amazing place to grow up in the summers … our cottage wasn’t anything fancy — three small rooms, a living room, and the magical screened porch. There really wasn’t any TV out there, so every summer was spent doing a lot of talking, reading, and tons and tons of swimming. As a matter of fact, a couple of summers we’d pick a book and my Mom would read to us all out on the screened in porch — I particularly remember Huck Finn one summer and just falling in love with it. Good stuff.
At any rate, the land the cottage was on was leased from an old family friend. Ms. Hazel Lee … she was a no-crap kind of lady who had a great relationship with my Mother. Every year my Mom would go visit her to talk about a long-term lease or perhaps even buying the land the cottage sat on … every year Hazel told her the same thing … “you’ll never have to worry about it … I will make sure you will always have a lease.” Hazel passed away several years ago and with her so went that promise. Her son-in-law acquired the property and proceeded to raise the rent on the property to a point where it made have a summer home less and less reasonable. It was devastating to all of us (especially my Mom), but we ended up selling the cottage and the associated memories that went with it.
So, when Madeline and I were out I thought it would be cool to take her out and show her around. We spent an hour or so just hanging out by the creek, throwing rocks into the water, and looking at things “Daddy did when he was a little boy.” Let’s just say that it was an amazing day for me. My little girl, who is 4, loved every minute of it … even when she fell into the freezing cold water throwing stones … she was fine and only got a little wet on her leg. It was like 30 degrees out and she announced very clearly that she wasn’t cold and wanted to stay. She kept saying to me, “Daddy, you seem very sad about your old house.” Perceptive to say the least.
I took a bunch of pictures of Madeline hanging out by the old cottage, her throwing stones in the water, and the general landscape. I even took a couple of shots of my family’s names that we etched in the concrete patio back in 1984 … a wonderful adventure. I found a couple of pictures of the cottage before we sold it and thought about posting those — it was a beautiful place. When it got down to it, I thought a picture of my sister and I floating was a good a shot as any … The place looks a little beat up now, but the memories are as rich and complete as ever. At the end of the day, Madeline and I took two rocks from the creek bed to help us both remember our Fishing Creek Adventure.
And here we are back in the day … my sister and I floating down Fishing Creek like we did everyday of every summer when we were kids.