In this life, our "over the rainbow" is on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage in the far northern reaches of Wisconsin.
There's a big old log cabin up there, built by my great grandparents in the '30s, where we spent at least one week of every childhood summer, not to mention a few magical Christmases.
It's the place where Sharon said that wanted to be forever; a place of great and happy (and funny) memories for all of us.
A happy memory: Sibling Weekend - September 2009
In the day, the property was quite large; located at the end of a short road, it extended to a point and also included a small island with boat house, connected to the mainland by a foot bridge. There was a lot of room for exploration! The property is still bigger than most -- and still includes the island -- even though the lot at the point was sold some years ago.
View from the south-side loft. The folks sitting on the far side are in the old porch area -- a wall with some windows (part of it remains) used to separate the two areas. There used to be an old sofa bed (most comfortable ever and my favorite sleeping place outside of the north-side loft), a few easy chairs, a rocker, a gorgeous wood-burning stove in the main area, but it was completely dominated by a red gingham oilcloth-covered dining table in the center of the room -- the center of the universe.
Bedrooms with walls, no ceiling!
The cabin had two big lofts at either end; a rustic kitchen and a bedroom under the south loft; a porch (and another bedroom) under the lake-side north loft; the lofts overlooked two more bedrooms on the middle-west side and a large dining/living area on the east.
Electricity was the only modern convenience; water was hauled, two buckets at a time, from a pump located a little ways off the northwest corner of the cabin, and heated in a big kettle on the stove; a two-seater log outhouse was located at the side of the cabin. Later, a cold water tap was added in the kitchen at the... well, let's call it the "personal care" sink, where we'd wash our faces and brush our teeth.
There used to be several poles off-shore with many martin houses -- full of purple martins. The martin population isn't anywhere what it used to be.
Deeper personal cleanliness could be accomplished in the lake or, as Grandma often preferred, by sponge bath in the "privacy" of her bedroom. Perhaps the original "open concept" design, there was only one room in the whole cabin that had both ceiling and walls, and none of them had a proper door; the center bedrooms had walls but no ceiling, the lofts had ceiling but no walls, the "bedroom" on the porch was actually created by hanging a curtain as partition, and all of the interior doorways were merely curtained.
The "porch bedroom" is now just part of the porch -- the curtain has been removed (though hardware remains) (you never know).
The cabin was sold about 20 years ago and has seen substantial "improvement" since then, the most significant of which is "indoor plumbing." The bedroom off the kitchen -- the one with both ceiling and walls -- was converted to a spacious full bath + laundry! There's a new roof, sunlights, an updated kitchen, flooring, and a partial basement, now, which houses both furnace and water heater; a windowed wall was removed between the living area and porch to open it up even further.
Other family members, both near and far along the family tree branches, still have (or had) nearby properties, and we've been well aware of all of these changes -- and have even done some window-peeking over the years -- but it was hard to tell, really, all the changes that had taken place.
We were all quite happy -- my kids beside themselves (Maddy has no memory of being there) -- when it was offered to us for the weekend in October that we planned to visit. We were warned many times that "it isn't the cabin you remember."
The center of attention from the minute he woke up!
Junah is the 7th generation to stay at the old family cabin!
Our favorite card game -- and there was almost always one in progress -- SKIP BO!
Lo, we were all quite pleased to note the "improvements," but also that there was much more that had stayed the same than had changed. It's hard to change the basic footprint and feel of a cabin made of massive native logs too much!!
It was perfect. Always was, always will be.
This photo is everything -- my great grandmother (on the left), old cars, the kitchen door, and outbuildings! Very little has changed. The building to the far left is known as "The Hoodlum" and was originally a bunkhouse on wheels, hauled around to lumber camps. It still stands, and I've slept a night or two there! Moved to my uncle's property several years ago, the old Wisconsin license plate is still visible!
Great Grandpa Sutton and me near the boathouse at the cabin, autumn 1965, Turtle Flambeau Flowage. One of my most favorite photos.
We boarded a borrowed pontoon on Saturday to motor a little ways out into the bay. I wore the fabulous autumn cover sweater from Vogue Knitting that Sharon knit years ago, we listened to Eva Cassidy sing "Somewhere Over The Rainbow," we disbursed the remainder of Sharon's ashes, along with some of Uncle Bob's, who'd passed in late May, to join those of a few others resting in the bay. Sharon & Bob had a special bond and it was good. Good company.
We returned to shore and feasted on steamed artichokes and smoked fish -- Sharon's favorite -- along with some BBQ ribs and potato-leek soup.
I love this photo of Annie and Junah reading.
Junah getting Bogey kisses!
It was a wonderful (if too short) weekend with lots of family time, fabulous weather, good food, fun and games, and more than a little irreverence -- in other words, SHARON PERFECT.