June 30, 2017
Good Ole Summertime
Summertime: fishing at the Lake

I am afraid to say "summer has arrived in Minnesota" at the risk of jinxing the beautiful weather we are having. Although I love winter, the snow and even the cold weather, summer is wonderful. I think that we Northerners may appreciate the warmer weather more than most.

I remember when school ended each year and summer break started, no early wake ups; time to relax and play! When the older 4 were young we would go to the Preserve Pool in Eden Prairie. It was the first sand bottom pool I had ever seen and the kids loved it. We had a neighborhood girl who came over to help 2 days a week, then we all had a bit of time to relax.

We would go up to visit Grandpa Ryan at Lake Eshquaguma. It was the perfect spot for the kids to just hang out. Lots of swimming, taking saunas, driving the golf cart, a little fishing (not many in the lake) and playing flashlight tag. We would go up several times a summer and great memories were made.

Summers at the Lake

When we moved to the lake, summer took on a different meaning. If you weren't a strong swimmer or under age 9, you wore a life jacket from after breakfast till bedtime. The life jackets were the kids (and my) best friend. No one took them off, for fear of losing beach time. We also had/have a little store, The Cottagewood Store, in the neighborhood, where penny candy and ice cream were (and still are) the summer time treats.

Children thrilled to be wearing lifejackets

Over the years, the 4th of July has become a major holiday in our family, the high point of the summer. In 1985 we moved to Cottagewood. It was a mix of small houses and bigger ones, a wonderful mix of people. Some of our new neighbors had a tradition of cooking breakfast over a campfire on holidays in the summer; Memorial Day, 4th of July, and Labor Day. The menu was always scrambled eggs and bacon, every family brought their own eggs, bacon and something to share. Eggs were cooked in cast iron pans, so there were always black bits in the eggs. In the beginning, the kids hated the eggs with the black bits but eventually they came to like them. After a few years, Jim became the “keeper of the pan”, a very, very high honor. With this honor came the responsibility of putting up a notice of the upcoming breakfast, starting the fire, setting up the tables, and cooking the eggs and cleanup. Our family was lucky, with 10 we could spread the work around. We had to be up and down at the cook site by 7 AM—not popular with our “helpers”. When the eggs were cooked the way Jim liked them he would call everyone to eat, yelling "Loooooose Eggs!!!!". To this day, Loooooose Eggs!!!!! is still yelled to signal that breakfast is ready! 

4th of July Breakfast on the Point

After the Breakfast on the 4th of July, we walk down to the Cottagewood Store for the Pledge of Allegiance, parade, games, dunk tank, and raffles. It is still a real old fashion celebration. We have to get to the store on time, because the parade is only about 8 blocks at most; you don’t want to miss it. Actually some years the front of the parade laps the end of the parade. We always have lots of family and friends. It is a noisy, crazy day, but great fun.

Fourth of July Parade in CTWD USA, circa 1990

During mid July, I take the 6 oldest grandchildren, up to a little cottage next to the cabin Jim spent his summers. If Kate can come than I can have the oldest 9 come. Hopefully baby Murray will join us in the next few years. It is a time for me and just the kids to get to know each other without Mom and Dad around, and it gives the Moms and Dads time for themselves. My Phoenix grands come for the 4th and leave around the18th, so they get to spend a good vacation with their cousins and their parents get a nice break too.

Summertime with grandma

My kids took sailing lessons, tennis lessons, and had lots of friends to just hang with; now their children are doing the same thing. It really was (and still is) a Norman Rockwell type of summer. We are very lucky and love this time.

Bullet Points:

  • Make the most of your summers, take time to get to know your kids/grandkids/family/friends, do the simple things; picnic, swimming, laying in a hammock.
  • There are water balloons that come in multiples. This means you can fill “100 water balloons in 60 seconds,” and they are self sealing. For those of us with arthritis this is a miracle.
  • Turn your phone off and enjoy the sun and beauty of a summer day. Also (the peace and quiet is wonderful) This is difficult for me, but I am going to try very hard to have it be a phone free day.
  • Celebrate the 4th, with a grateful heart. Give thanks to those who made/make it possible for us to live in this wonderful USA.
Colleen Ryan