Ten Mile Lake, My "Childhood Hamptons"

by Stanely Stuyvesant · July 8, 2008

    Ten Mile LakeRight now my family is miles away from me...from anyone for that matter.  They are at our cabin on the beautiful lake of Ten Mile in Northern Minnesota.  This is the first year I have missed this vacation in over 20 years.  Logistically, there was no way I could make it out there...the cabin is a tough 5 hour drive from the twin cities, and, more importantly, still untouched by internet save for a small icecream parlor in a town firmly named "Hackensack" not exactly a reliable source.  (There's no cell reception, or TV's either).

    Ten Mile was my "hamptons" since before I could walk.  It is where I learned how to catch rock bass (and the occasional northerns or walleyes), read, bathe in a lake, camp out, make smores, write, play cards, swing in hammocks, swat mosquitos, drink tomato beer, relax, grow, love.  So, because I am homesick for my family, and because my sister is the better writer, I will steal her homage to our lovely Ten Mile Lake.  Where's yours?

    From the sister's blog: While I’m away, here’s a piece I wrote as a sophomore in high school about “Where I Find Peace.” There is so much about it that I want to take a red editing pen to, and also much about it that makes me smile in its purity and vulnerability. Here it is in its unadulterated and sophomoric state:

    There is a narrow trail that twists and cavorts past trees, rocks, and streams through the wilderness that surrounds the lake. The trail is not really a trail at all, but a path that has been worn by the generations of lake goers. It has led many to adventure and serenity. It ends and then begins; leading not to an exact destination, but taking you to wherever you choose to go. I follow the path past the beach where I have collected seashells, past the sauna that I have sweated in before jumping in the frigid water, past the hammock where I have read myself to sleep on hot July afternoons. This path has led me to places of sheer relaxation, but mostly this path has born witness to the journey I have taken in search of myself.As each year passes, I find myself on the same trail once again. Once I am there, I begin to wonder how time can pass so quickly. It seems like only seconds ago that I was the little pig-tailed girl in a polka-dot bikini afraid to venture onto the path alone. The time passes as effortlessly as the water escaped through the hole in the sand pail that I clutched in my tiny fingers.This path has felt the footsteps of each of my ages since I was four. Every year, I’d like to think my steps get heavier as I become more confident in myself and full of new experiences and beliefs. But sometimes, I am still afraid.

    After a day of sunbathing, swimming, and napping, I follow the path back to our cabin. “Stonehenge,” it is called, such a prestigious name for our little stone cabin tucked away in a grove of birches and pines. After twelve years, I have memorized where the stones carved in the shapes of hearts and diamonds are hidden. I have read the books on the bookshelves, watched the loons through the binoculars, and roasted marshmallows on the pokers that hang on the nails that poke through the pine walls. I have taken baths in the sink used to clean fish of various sizes and have rocked in the wooden rocking chairs that have been here long before my existence.

    It seems my presence here is as undisputed as the waves that never cease to crash or ripple along the shore. I belong here as much as the bald eagles that fly overhead in a clear blue sky, and the fish that swim in the crystal clean water. Everything seems perfect here. It is a time when I can appreciate the complexity and simplicity of life, and reflect on the way mine is going.

    As the sun slowly melts into oblivion, and the water lilies begin to close their eyes, I sit in the boat and let the waves rock me. Tomorrow is a new day and the trail is waiting.