Summer Surprises

Summer+Surprises

Janet Meuwissen

Nothin’ could be finer than to be in Carolina in the mornin.’ And nothing can be Sweeter than to be at Sacandaga in the Summer—Sacandaga Lake in the Adirondack mountains of New York—it is the best time of the year to be there! My dad spent half his childhood living on the lake, and I loved the times he and my mom would take me there to visit. Having grown up in the city of Charlotte, NC, every trip was full of surprises for a kid from the city. 

When I was younger, I’d have to wait for an adult to take me down to the beach to play in cold, wet sand and swim in clear blue water, always seemingly frigid from the fresh mountain streams feeding into the lake. Dad showed me how to fish off the dock by putting those slimy wiggly worms on my hook. We always looked for the huge, slow-moving carp under the dock. 

Papa had a canoe, and we would glide along, in and out of the coves and bays of the water’s edge.

Gramma would create scrumptious lakeside picnics with family and friends. Sounds of sizzling burgers and aromas of pungent condiments would call us to the table.

My grandparents also had a pontoon boat. I felt like such a Big Shot when Papa would let me steer the boat around the lake. But, when Mom wanted to go tubing behind it, Papa was the Captain in charge. Watching my mom bounce up and down on the lapping boat wake was kind of scary to me, but seeing her huge grin calmed me down. 

I remember the time we took a full-day boat trip to the Dam Tie-up Event—it took three hours to get there by boat. We picnicked, listened to the music, and chatted with neighboring boaters. My aunt’s friend paddle-boarded over to our boat and gave each of us kids a chance to use her board. I instantly wanted one for myself.

My aunt bought a Yamaha jet ski, and, to my surprise, she let me drive it! I loved revving it up, but not too much. Turning to watch the rooster tail of water spew from the engine was a real treat. It didn’t seem like life could get any better at the lake. But it did. 

Our family prided itself on finding entertainment that involved interactions with one another and with nature—entertainment that didn’t involve a lot of money, just to have fun. Well, of course, there usually was some money involved. 

One Memorial Day, we woke up to a huge blue and white blob in the middle of the bay in front of my grandparents’ home. It was a floating island, complete with a slide, balance beam, and trampoline. What a surprise! Papa said that one of their community members was able to acquire the inflatable play center at a huge discount. Then community members installed it for all to enjoy.

Now there was a venue right here in the bay where all could watch and be entertained by the fun being created by the kids and grandkids of the community. Balance beam contests. Sliding into the lake. Trampoline jumping, sunbathing, swimming contests from the raft to the docks—trying to stay away from the seaweed. Waving to moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas on the beach; waving to folks as they took off in their watercraft for other parts of the lake.

Last year I had to wave goodbye to all those surprises on the Sacandaga. Gramma and Papa moved to North Carolina, away from my childhood vacation wonderland. But I still have my memories of that mountain lake, and now I dream of surprises to come in their coastal Carolina home in Brunswick Forest.