Up at the lake, things are so heavenly that the adage, “Cleanliness is next to Godliness,” is moot, passe, unfitting. It just doesn’t work. Plus it’s summer – the time to get tan lines, harden the soles of your feet by walking barefoot and to coat your body with a fine layer of salt from sweat.
I get that. I sooo get that.
When we were kids, there weren’t bathing facilities at the lake and it was wonderful. “Washing up” often meant a dip in the lake; the whole family and maybe even some aunts or uncles were induced to shrieking and gasping as their bodies connected with the chilly lake water. Other times it meant a trip to town to the city campground’s quarter showers – exciting and exhilerating to get sudsed and rinsed before the timer clicked the water off – or to beg a shower off of Uncle Bert and let your freshly shampooed hair soak up the smell of cigarettes. Gooooood times.
I tease my folks that they wash the kids hands up at the lake once a day, whether they need it or not. Truth is, since Papa Chris installed a nifty wash station, we fight to keep them away from it and wasting water. Such an improvement over the enamel wash basin from back in the day. Dont get me wrong, I miss that bowl but not the foating dead flies or the dirt you could see that had settled onto the bottom. My Aunt Bonnie was always so full of joy and I can remember her knowing when we were “washing” or hands in that basin. “Let me smell your hands!” she’d call out, an invitation for her approval and a hug. It was also quality control and if your hands did not indeed “smell” clean, she’d take you back to “help” get them smelling nice. How fitting it is that I learned
‘Teeter totter! Bread and water! Wash your face in dirty water!’
up there, on the swing, from her lips.
That basin always had dirty water.
Anyway, like I said, there have been some improvements. We have a shower house with water that ranges from icy cold to boiling lava hot. The sun on your body after a shower al fresco is IN. CRED. IBLE. We also have a galvanized tub – left over from our wedding decorations – that serves as the bathtub for the kids. Two weeks ago, we brought them home after a week up at the lake and the residue left in the tub after they got out – SHUDDER! So this week I requested baths before they met up with my bathroom again. In Philip’s photo there is a bottle of bleach behind him. We didn’t use that, but they had lost so much skin due to wrecks and falls and bugs that we did pour a liberal amount of hydrogen peroxide right into the bath water to aid in the cleaning process. As you can see, the older three were unphased.
They also seemed unphased by their sparkling, clean smelling skin because within an hour of these photos, they had taken off for the creek and walked through the colvert, filling their hair with dirt that sprinkled down to mix with the sweat on their bare backs. I was frustrated, to tell the truth. But I reminded myself it was summer, we were at the lake and dirt is what memories are made of.