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Childhood Adventures and the Island of Memories
It was colder than it usually was that morning. A blanket of clouds rolled in overnight and continued to spray icy drops of water across the still lake. Two girls stood on the dock of the boathouse. They had already made their plans for the day and were determined they go on without a hitch.
Their mother didn't want them to go out. It was too cold. They had never taken the canoe out by themselves. The wind was starting to pick up and they wouldn't be able to get back. The girls ignored their mothers ramblings. Sure of their ability. Determination spread across their faces.
They paddled into the wind. The bigger girl in the back her brown hair plastered to her face as she strained to keep them on course. The younger was in the front. Her view of the lake fogged by the droplets of water sticking to her glasses.
Their destination came into view. The island emerged from the rain, in the middle of the lake, sitting quietly as if waiting for them. They rounded its first bend, suddenly protected from the powerful gusts that had rocked their little boat in the larger channel. They would dock in their usual spot on the beach.
The smaller girl stepped out first. Her rolled pants barely missing the cool water. She pulled the boat onto the shore allowing the older one to step out. Together they heaved the small canoe up the embankment and safe from the lake's currents.
Armed with carving knives, flip flops and one water bottle they set off into the trees. It was impossible to get lost. They had tried before when they came to this island with their father but the island was small enough so that if you kept walking you would eventually hit the lake.
The ground was soggy and uneven laden with decomposing leaves and trees. Both of the girls seemed to regret their choice of footwear as they made their way through the closely knit trees.
The island made them feel free. They were completely alone, as if they were transported into another world away from the petty mundanities of everyday life. All they could hear was the rain against the branches and each other's breathing as they walked deeper into the forest unsure of their destination.
It didn't take them very long before they reached the far side of the island. The rain had let up a little and they could see the shoar on the far side. The house, their house, their sanctuary was nestled farther back. Just the boathouse and the deck visible from their vantage point.
They walked along the bank of the island until they found a point where they could see every bit of their house. It seemed to shine as they looked out at it through the fog. A constant reminder of long happy summer days.
The older one took out her red carving knife. A birthday present after she had gotten home from camp last summer. She climbed up the bank leaving her sister staring at the far shore. Eventually following the older one the girls set off to find two perfect trees.
They found them. Two twin trees, the same size, standing side by side. The older girl quickly traced her initials into the tree then began to carve deeper lines, just deep enough, struggling a little bit with the R. The younger one followed suit. The next few minutes were spent in silence.
The older one finished first. She looked over to the younger one who was struggling on her J. She left her to it and climbed back down the bank to the shore. When the younger one was done she joined her sister.
¨Now part of us will always be here.¨ The older girl said, gesturing across the lake at the house. They couldn't see anyone outside. It was still raining. But they could see smoak rising from the chimney. Their father must have lit a fire.
The younger girl looked contently up at her sister and the two set off back through the forest. They didn't bother to go back to their trees. They just set off back the way they came back to the beach where they had tied their boat.
The way back across the lake was hard. As their mother had feared the wind had picked up some more and the older one had trouble keeping them straight. But she was determined. The thought of the warm fire and hot chocolate had driven all from her mind.
The younger girl looked back at the island. Thinking of their trees hidden up on the banks of the lake. Their summer home throughout their childhood. From the second they had left she had wanted to go back carve her initials a little deeper. To make sure they would last, that they always be there.
She would go back tomorrow.
The next day the girls set off this time with their father. Determined to find their trees. They made their way back to the bank opposite their house and looked. They never found their trees again. But the girls knew that somewhere some part of them would remain rooted to the sacred ground.