Yes, it really does look like this. It is so beautiful, it takes your breath away. Or, at least, it does mine. From the first morning I wake up there (first photo on this post), to the last sunset (last photo on this post), I am a bit breathless from the views, the sights, the colors, the landscape, the history.
Every day I’m there I’m thinking about Herman Engstrom — my great grandfather (my mother’s mother’s father) — who built this little cottage with his own two hands. We have photo albums with pictures of the early days. I imagine that the lake water was just as crystal clear as it is now, but the cottage, the dock, the well, the outdoor fireplace — Herman had to build them. And in doing that, he gifted us with a precious and fragile family legacy.
That was this year’s theme for me: precious and fragile. I wonder if Herman had any idea that his great-great-grandchildren would be swimming in those same waters? That the cottage (the place, and the experience) would be passed down like this? I know he painted it red and white because of the family’s Swedish heritage. I wonder if he could have imagined Haitian-American boys waterskiing there? Coming all the way from Pennsylvania, with their mother, his great-granddaughter, a professor. It probably would have been unimaginable to him. We can’t imagine what will become five generations down the road.
I don’t think there has ever been a summer of my life I haven’t spent at least some time there. Some years (especially my college and graduate school years), a lot of time. Some years, a lot less. But it has been a constant in my life, and in the life of five generations of my family. Kyle, Owen, and Meera know no summer without a pilgrimage to “The Cottage.” (Links here to many years’ posts.) Braydon has come to understand this place as an integral part of his life too. It is such a gift.
But it isn’t a given. It isn’t ever to be taken for granted. It is precious, and it is fragile.
It — like anything valuable and intrinsically important — needs constant care and upkeep. It takes deep commitment.
It’s impossible to try to convey it, but this year — for me — these two dozen photos take the best stab at it. I’m sure Herman Engstram could not have imagined iPhones. But these were taken by me, with my iPhone, during my ten days at the family cottage on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire. There is something about preciousness that makes me want to try to remember and solidify it — to try to make it less fragile than it is, or perhaps to try to create a keepsake knowing the reality of the fragility.
Life is so short, time is so fleeting, some things stay, but so much does not remain the same. There’s more to come, but these 24 were my best effort at capturing the gift we were given in this year’s annual visit to The Cottage.