The island

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Wes heroically snatched a coughing Winnie out of the monstrous wave before her head could go under. The under tow tugged without mercy at Winnie’s legs while Wes pulled just as hard on her arms that were clasped around his middle. Willow giggled from the bank as her brother dragged her drenched cousin Winnie on to the sand.

At six, Winnie was the youngest of the trio, with blonde hair, brown eyes and tan skin. She was the spitting image of her seven year old cousin, Willow. Wes, brother to Willow, was the oldest, at age eight. Taller than the rest of the trio, Wes was also stronger and quieter. Winnie, though small in stature was the leader of the group. Winnie became shy in the presence of strangers. She gladly handed the job of leader to Willow, though in the face of adventure and danger Winnie was fearless.

It was this fearlessness that often found Winnie in trouble as it had just moments before the rescue by Wes.

“That log is so slippery; I bet no one could cross it,” Young Willow stated matter of factly.

Taking this as a personal dare Winnie jauntily replied, “I can cross it with no problem, and I have before! It’s easy!” Of course she had never attempted to cross, but Willow did not know that.

Wes seeing the trouble about to occur tried to talk Winnie out of it.
“Winnie, please don’t! We all know you’ve never crossed the log!!”
“I have too!” Winnie looked threateningly at Wes as she spoke
Wes just sighed and stepped softly to the side of the log; just as sure footed Winnie mounted the log and began her daring adventure. Midway across, a small green frog darted from the lush cattails that were waving gently with the light wind, and reflected off of the clear water of Lake Michigan. Winnie, who was startled by the quick movement shrieked, lost her balance, and fell flailing into the water. Laughing the whole time, she choked on when Wes proceeded to pull her out, still laughing and coughing. Making excuses about why she didn’t cross successfully.
“It was the frog!” Winnie protested
“No it was not! You know you slipped all by yourself,” Willow argued
This talk continued for quite a while before Willow finally gave up.

This particular walk the trio was taking was to a small peninsula at the end of a long stretch of bare beach. The beach was bordered on one side by the gently rolling and tumbling waves of the Lake and on the other side the never ending sea of waving grass. At the end of the stretch was a small path to the peninsula. Few stumbled upon the path unless they knew about it, and the journey was not for the faint of heart for there were many thorns, rocks and bugs one would have to face. After the final curve of the beach the rocky path of the peninsula stretched out as if to clutch more and more of the soft brown sand. Underneath the outside look of harshness, the rocks greeted old friends kindly, guiding them closer and closer to the beauty and freshness of the “island”. This name was given to the peninsula after the trio first found it.

The trio, reaching the first patch of rocks, all quickened their paces, eagerness and excitement pumping through them. Almost running now, they skipped over the rocks laughing and talking and then suddenly…they all grew quiet. A change had come over them; they were no longer the three friends laughing and yelling, they were now sneaking and running silently through their home. Winnie loping in the lead, as only a five year old can lope, stopped when they reached the true start to the island. One could tell this is where the island truly began because of the sudden lushness one encountered. The small bursts of bushes and shrubs that had bordered the path now grew all together with large and small trees. The effect was breathtaking; willow trees grew in close companionship with the light feathery birch trees, and every so often a towering pine tree grew. In the light breeze the aroma of pine swirled in the air as if dancing, one minute here the next gone. The light streaming through the trees was tinted a light green color. The sunlight was absorbed by the bright green moss that covered the whole island. The small purple and blue flowers growing off of the vines of the trees accented the bright colors of green.
Winnie stopped running and looked at the wild berries growing all around. She took off her t-shirt revealing her bright yellow swim suit and laid the shirt on the ground next to a bush, and Willow, and Wes followed her lead and they also laid their shirts on the ground.

“I am going to pick the raspberries. Wes you get black berries and Willow you can get the Strawberries.” It always went like this picking the same berries every time.

They worked in companionable silence for a while together filling the shirts. As an unspoken agreement Willow chose the tree they ate in, as she most often picked a willow with thick branches that were long and sturdy. This day the tree was a huge willow in the middle of the island. But as they were climbing Willow slipped, her foot that had been on a patch of moss slipped from the green fungi and she began to fall from the tree!
“Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” she shrieked
“Willow!! Be careful,” Wes called to his sister; his protective side came out when she was in danger.
As she was falling she grabbed one of the long, thin, but sturdy waving branches that was in front of her. The thin whip like branch held her weight and she then grabbed a handful of these similar branches, she began climbing up the branches as if she were shimmying up a rope. Soon Winnie and Wes had joined and they were racing up and sliding down their ropes.

Tired, hot, and sore Wes decided they should go back to the beach and swim before they returned to their house to eat dinner with their families. They slowly trudged through the underbrush Willow and Winnie tying together small bouquets for the various grandmas, aunts and mothers who would be pleasantly surprised by the gifts. When they reached the beginning of the clutching rocks they slowed and looked around them. They always did this before they left knowing that it would be one year older before they could return to their island.
“I will be 7” Winnie said slowly…
“Eight” replied after thinking for a moment Willow…
“Nine” Wes stated thoughtfully.
These would be their ages when they returned. As they began walking back to the sand they all had different thoughts going through their heads: Winnie was thinking of the log that she was going to successfully cross. Willow was thinking of the butterfly she hoped to catch and bring home, Wes being a boy was thinking of how hungry he was. But the one common thought going through their heads, was how sad they all were to leave.

If they had looked closely at Winnie, her companions could have seen a single tear tracing the delicate outline of her young and usually strong face, but they were not looking because they were too busy trying to hide their own tears.

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