Deam Lake

November 14, 2007
By Tabbatha Dunn, Sellersburg, IN

It was a pleasant summer night, towards the end of summer. The air had a slight chill to it, and there was a light breeze making the trees whisper the secrets of the earth to each other. I had on my favorite hoodie at the time, the one with the wild horses running through a stream in a thunderstorm, and I hugged it close to my body. The cicadas and crickets were playing the song of the summer night while the frogs and birds sang the lyrics. I was sitting in front of Deam Lake next to my mother; we were both in fold out camping chairs, hers green and mine red (red is my favorite color). Mom’s chair had a flashlight carefully attached to the back over her right shoulder.
There were so many times I went to Deam Lake and had nearly the same experience, but this one sticks out more than the others. I can still feel the chill of the night air, still hear the timeless song of the night as if I am right there by the lake again. I can almost smell the frogs, fish and old chicken livers left over from the night before when Dad was fishing; that distinct smell of lake still lingers in my nostrils. That such a small memory can be so vivid after lying dormant in the back of my mind for a year or more must mean something.

Mom was reading to me from mythology books, her voice was soft and cracked slightly every few words. I remember wanting her to clear her throat and making the noise as if to clear my own, but she didn’t get the message. I was only half listening to the stories though. I was busy looking at the lake, caught up in my own thoughts. I couldn’t seem to take my eyes off the water. There were little coils of mist rising off the lake all over. To me they looked like hundreds of little snakes untwisting, trying to rise up to the full moon. The moon is special to Mom and me. When I was little Mom and I were looking at the moon and I said it was so pretty. Mom said, “You know I own the moon; when I was a little girl my mommy gave it to me, and if you want I will give it to you.” So the moon has always been a sort of symbol of mine and Mom’s friendship.
Beyond the light of the moon, the night had a thick darkness that swallowed the woods. I have always been a little afraid of the dark; well, not actually the dark, but what could be lurking in the dark. The thought of it both intrigued and frightened me at the same time. I guess I am a sort of adrenaline junky, because I enjoy being scared. That feeling I get in between my chest and my stomach when I feel a kind of apprehensive fright exhilarates me.

One of the myths that Mom read was that of Bouticca, the Celtic warrior Queen. I paid a little more attention to this story because Bouticca had red hair (I’m partial to redheads). Queen Bouticca was stronger than any man and had nearly taken over Rome before she died. Her husband had so much faith in her strength that he bet she could beat the fastest horse in a race. Bouticca did not want to race because she was heavily pregnant, but her pride, which would be her downfall, got the better of her. She raced the horse and won, but immediately after the race she collapsed and died giving birth. I have always been a stubborn, prideful person; I would get angry if someone offered me help once I was determined to accomplish something on my own. This story makes me think twice about doing things on my own that may be a bit over my head. I didn’t think much about it then, but afterwards I got the message --the moral of the story so to speak.

After that story mom put down the Celtic myths book and picked up another book about Greek mythology. From this book she read to me about Zeus and Cronos. Cronos was a Titan and the father of Zeus; he was afraid that one day his children would become strong and overthrow him. This fear made Cronos decide to eat his children. Zeus’s mother fed Cronos boulders in place of their children and hid the children away until Zeus was strong enough to fight his father. Zeus fought Cronos and won, becoming the king of the gods. When I think back on this story, I think of all the times my mom protected me and my siblings from our father. My father is a very angry person and he liked to yell a lot; my mom always stood up for us when my dad wanted to yell at us to relieve his anger. When my siblings and I got old enough, we too defeated our father in a way; we told him off, told him that his words were hurtful.

This memory makes me miss the way things used to be when I was younger and my parents were still together. We used to go camping all the time. I miss getting up in the morning and everyone having doughnut sticks and a cup of milk for breakfast. At night we would all, Mom, Dad, my sister, my brother and I sit around the camp fire and take turns making up parts of ghost stories. Then Dad would go to his favorite fishing spot with my little brother and my sister, though my sister never really liked fishing. Mom and I would go to our sitting spot by the lake and talk or read by flashlight or lantern. Sometimes Dad would fish in our sitting spot with us, but his favorite spot was a little further down the lake. My sister and brother would go to bed earlier than Mom, Dad and me. Dad stayed up the longest, he would fish until three or four in the morning. I stayed up until Mom was ready to go to sleep and spent my time with her until time to sleep.
It’s funny how I could find so much meaning in this memory. It takes looking back on and introspection to find out what small things in life might really mean. I never thought that my memory of being with Mom at Deam Lake could mean anything deeper than what it was, but looking back it seems to have been a hidden little summary of my life; a little defining term in the big scheme of life. It would not have occurred to me that there was a message in this small, seemingly pointless memory, if I hadn’t stopped to take the time to think on it.

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