And now, the top 10 things I love about Iron Creek . . .

#10 – Cooking Al Fresco


Admittedly, we do nearly everything outside while at the lake.  But there is just something about being outside and enjoying the view (see below) that takes slaving over a hot stove up a notch or five.  Plus, Papa Chris has acquired several huge stove and griddles that make one feel as if they’re commanding a kitchen in a fine restaurant.  Only it’s outside . . . right.

# 9 – The Climate


I adore that we get days like this in mid-July.  Incredible!  Most of the time it is cooler than in town and the storms that we can get are amazing.

#8 – Bathing au naturale


I’m not pulling your leg when I say that the shower is my favorite structure at the lake.  Again, Papa Chris has worked very hard to make the shower fabulous and, I assure you, it is.  I don’t have a photo of us using it because, well, that’d be weird.  But even when they’re in the tub, the kids love being outside for their baths.  It’s so freeing!

#7 – The wildlife


Taking an evening drive around our “Wildlife Loop” is a favorite for me.  This years drives included visits with “the” horses, lots or deer, and this incredible herd of elk that we saw a couple of times.  At the lake proper, there were does that came down close to the trailer, lots and lots of birds, a blue heron and a weasel.  A WEASEL!  It’s like living in National Geographic without the violent pedator/prey action.

#6 – The Neighbor-liness


Okay, okay.  I know “neighbor-liness” isn’t a word, but it sums up the culture of the lake so perfectly.  It feels like stepping back in time.  You wave to all who go down the road, say good morning to folks who walk past, ask how the fish are biting.  You come to the aide of your neighbors by wiggling into tight spots they can’t reach (like Max did for Glen and Laura) or cutting a board to size when they come asking for a saw (like dad did).  If you don’t have an ingredient for a meal (“What do you mean you didn’t get soy sauce?  We’re having rice!!!!”), you can borrow something from your neighbor at a moments notice.  And gifts are shared that are simple and say something – the flowers above, pickled catfish, jars of jelly, a days catch – and mainly they say, “We think you’re swell and we give you this part of our selves.”  It’s beautiful and I’m so thankful my kids get to take part in it.

#5 – The Sounds


Because the lake creates a natural bowl, you can hear everything from all angles all the time.  It makes keeping track of little ones much easier.  Aside from that fact, I love the sounds of feet walking on gravel, the birds calling, the wind in the trees and grasses, ducks, paddles in water, the occasional thunder, the water in the creek, the campfire crackling, windchimes, cows mooing and the coyotes (if you’re from here, you pronounce that ‘ky-oats’) at night.  Those sounds are the soundtrack of summer.

#4 – Comfort Level


Now, some may say we’re crazy, and we just might be, but the kids have very few limits while at the lake.  We adhere to strict safety policies, mind you, like “Don’t point the loaded bow/BB gun at anyone” and “Wear a life vest in the boat” and “Put on a bike helmet.”  You know, those sorts of things.  But other than that, the kids have free reign.  We know where they are and what they’re doing most of the time, but the freedom to let them explore and run – it’s priceless.

#3 – Campfires


Nearly every night, this is how we end our day:  Papa Chris uses his Boy Scout skills to build us a raging fire.  The kids wait in anticipation for the flames to burn down and leave hot coals so we can roast marshmallows.  Once everyone is full and sticky, the kids are tucked into bed and the fire is stoked again.  Over the flames we visit about the day, tell stories, and watch the stars.  It’s so relaxing and peaceful and always the best part of the day.

#2 – The View


This is the view as seen from the deck/front window/campfire pit/outdoor kitchen.  We like to say, because we believe it, that we have the best view on the lake.  *SIGH!* I never get tired of it!

#1 – Shared Memories


The lake is where I relive my childhood.  Not my parents home, not my hometown – the lake.  There, with my children, I am able to say “When we were little . . .” or “This is just what we used to do!” and have them get it.  It’s even different than the traditions of holidays or birthdays because times change.  Things change.  But at the lake, time seems to stand still.  A bike that belonged first to an older 2nd cousin then to Billy and I, stands ready and waiting for my own children to try out.  The gate remains the same and I relive and share the memories of learning to open it on my own with Max who mastered it this year.  The toys remain, the games remain, the feelings remain.  And at night, when I tuck my kids into the same beds I slept in as a child under the same blankets, I don’t feel sentimental or nostalgic, but strong and heartened knowing full well the bond we share in this special place and that it will remain for their future’s, too.