Neck Deep

I sat with my family by the bonfire at my grandpa’s cabin--a few steps from the shoreline of Turtle Lake in northern Wisconsin--and listened to the throaty serenade of hundreds of bull frogs. Above us, the moon was shrouded in clouds and the damp July air settled lower and lower.

Nobody was really talking. We all just stared into the fire and relaxed; well, that was until my brother decided it was time for one last game of tag.

“Not it,” he yelled as he took off across the lawn and disappeared into the darkness. The rest of my siblings followed suit--leaving me, the oldest and, apparently the slowest--to be “It.”

I got up and gave chase. Well, I tried. About halfway across the lawn, the light faded and I ran nose-first into a tree trunk.

With a howl, I sat down and shook my head--trying to get the tears that instantly sprang to my eyes to clear. The others came to see what was wrong and my Dad put a stop to the game--calling us all back to the fire.

The night ended like so many before--with the whole clan singing songs and eating s’mores.

Thinking back, it’s no wonder I remember those annual vacations “to the lake” as special times. For one week, our whole family rose with the sun and spent the day fishing, swimming, exploring, and reading. There was no schedule to adhere to and no real constraints on our activity--just a lazy rhythm to the days that centered around the water right out our front door.

My wife has similar special memories of her youth--though hers are centered around daily trips to the community pool with her mom, brothers, sisters, and friends. Like our trips to the lake, her summer days were whiled away swimming, reading, playing, socializing, and relaxing by the pool.

The common thread between the two experiences is water--that magical, life-giving substance that always seems to soothe, relax, and entertain.

This month, our coverage goes neck-deep into all things aquatic--spraygrounds, splash pads, beaches, pools, water slides, and even non-traditional opportunities like riding horses on the beach.

It was a blast putting it together and has the whole staff itching to see the weather here in Ohio turn so we can go out and explore all of the fresh water we’re so fortunate to have outside our front door.

Hopefully, it inspires you as well.

Till next month…

Rodney J. Auth