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For Your Marriage

Dennis and Mary Jo Weiss have been married for more than 30 years. They write about a shared love of nature, prayer, and their children and grandchildren from their home in Hamburg, New York.

Crafting Family Memories

We recently returned from a family vacation in which we visited one of our favorite spots, a family run camp on a small, quiet lake in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. We have been visiting this location since our oldest daughters were just under five years old, so it has been for well over 20 years that we have been returning to this special spot. This location is so serene and peaceful and provides a much needed respite from the daily bustle of life.

We have always rented a cabin, with enough room to fit our family of seven. Now that our eldest daughter is married with two young sons, our family has expanded and we were concerned that we would no longer fit into a single cabin. Luckily, the camp owners built two new, more spacious cabins so we were all able to fit cozily into one cabin for the week.

While this vacation spot may not offer the excitement and glitz of Disney World or some other fancy resort, for our family it has been a perfect spot for creating many fond and lasting family memories. And this year, with seeing our oldest grandson enjoy many of the same things that our children did many years ago, it became clear to me that these memories are precious gifts which will live on in our hearts for years to come.

The memory may be from the simple pleasure of sitting around a warm fire on a cool Adirondack mountain evening, toasting marshmallows to make s’mores. Or it might be softly gliding a canoe through the late day serenity of the lake waters in order to catch a glimpse of the pair of native loons before they are spooked and dive beneath the mirrored waters, only to reappear perhaps 60 to 80 feet away. In case you are not familiar with loons, they are rather shy creatures, usually avoiding as much human contact as possible. To be able to silently paddle to within 20 feet, close enough so you can clearly see their white stripes and red eyes, is a rare treat indeed. Or perhaps the memory is from stepping outside the cabin late in the evening, into the crisp mountain air, and walking down to the dock to gaze up at a sky so dark, yet filled with such a vast expanse of stars you would think you were getting a little glimpse of heaven itself. To me these are experiences that in some way transcend the ordinary and provide us with a preview of the awe and majesty of the Creator.

There have been years when we have enjoyed family hikes along a forest path or a climb up a mountain trail. On one particular occasion we hiked to a mountaintop, admittedly not without some amount of moans and groans at the steep uphill sections when our water bottles ran low. Yet upon reaching the summit and climbing the fire tower, you could look out upon miles of green forest lands, dotted with clear blue lakes in all directions. We all look back and can now laugh about how unprepared we were for that hike, but we all agree it was worth the effort and you simply cannot buy the memory of that moment with your Visa card.

I also recall the years when our children wanted to fish from the docks. My job of course was always to bait the hooks with the worms, as the girls wanted nothing to do with such a slimy task. Later when they happened to catch a small perch of sunfish, it again fell to Dad to get the hook out of the flopping fish’s mouth so we could toss them back into the lake to hopefully live to be caught another day.

This year, when our grandson Stephen caught a fish, only to take several steps back to Mom’s side as the scaly creature was flopping around with the hook in his mouth, I thought back to all those times fishing with our own young children. Fond memories indeed!

Mary Jo and I feel very blessed that we have been able to continue to make this Adirondack vacation a part of our family’s life experience and that our children have come to appreciate the beauty and majesty of God’s creation during these visits to our favorite spot. Even though our children are no longer youngsters, we know they still enjoy the specialness of this time together and all of the memories we have created together over the years.

This year, on the last evening of our vacation week, Shannon wanted to go out on the lake to try her luck at fishing for bigger fish such as bass or pike. Thus I rowed her and her two sisters to the far cove across the lake. It was one of those picture perfect still evenings, when the water was like glass and the clouds were reflected so clearly it was like looking at them in a mirror. While Shannon failed to get even a nibble on her line, we all watched in the stillness as two beavers rounded the bend and slowly swam toward our rowboat. One quickly noticed us and with a loud slap of his tail dove beneath the water. The other busy fellow was dragging a log in his teeth and apparently could not see or sense us, intent on building his lodge somewhere along the other shoreline. We silently watched him swim within about ten feet of our rowboat before he sensed us and slapped the water with such a loud thud and splash we were left startled and amazed. We looked at each other with mouths wide open and about all we could say was “Wow, that was cool!” For three twentysomething young ladies to be “wowed” by that experience is priceless. Another memory made, and to be cherished for many years to come.