I made my once-or-twice-a-summer overnight visit to Okoboji last week. When I was younger, the visits extended over weeks at a time. My cousin, Margaret Ann, spent the whole summer with her family at their cottage and, since we are close in age (she’ll tell you I’m several months older, but she lies), I was often invited to share her time there.
We were an odd pair, keeping mostly to ourselves, spying on her two older brothers and my older sister, and attributing nefarious motives to their comings and goings. We saw enemy plots everywhere. We also yearned to be included in some of their fun, but rarely were. Hence, we concluded they must be traitorous villains and it was our duty to keep notes on their suspicious activities.
When we weren’t doing that, we adopted many glamorous identities, calling each other by whatever aliases we thought sounded most adventurous. Occasionally, we argued over who got to be Mata Hari and who had to be her sidekick, or who got to be Roy Rogers and who had to be Trigger. (“You were Roy Rogers last time!”) Obviously, our imaginations were not limited to any one venue.
We sailed the seven seas in the garage behind the cottage which had a ship’s wheel propped up against a work table. When we tired of that, we climbed a tree that had branches resting on the garage roof and sat up there with our teddy bears, playing Tarzan. I know, Tarzan was never described as having a teddy bear, but we were sure he had one anyway.
We also kept tabs on the fellow a few cottages away who we were sure was a serial killer, or at the very least, a kidnapper or bandit. We managed to convince ourselves so completely of his wickedness that we always ran fast past his cottage on our way to the beach, sure that if we tarried, we’d become his next victims. Our hearts always pounded wildly as we raced past his abode. Luckily, we were never caught and have lived to recall those narrow escapes – along with our other escapades – when we get together now and sit on her porch, vying with each other over who can remember the most adventures from that magic years-ago time.
Last week we continued our lake reminiscences, picking up the threads of the past as if we had never been interrupted by such inconveniences as growing up and having adult responsibilities.
I’m pretty sure the next time I go up there, it’s my turn to be Roy Rogers. And Mata Hari. Margaret Ann was both of those last time.