Monday, August 31, 2009

Star Lake Saloon

This book, by Wisconsin writer Sara Rath, turned out to be a pleasant surprise. I picked it up few years back, when Sara spoke at a Friends of the Library dinner. Timing must have been bad, since I never finished. However, it is our book group's pick for September, and so, out of obligation, I tackled it again. Rath is a pretty good writer, although she did lead me fairly easily to each plot resolution. She turns a rather nice phrase from time to time, and I was surprised with a couple dicey passages. The story? Hannah lives a rather up-scale life in Madison...until she is notified that she has inherited a fishing resort on a small Wisconsin Lake. You can pretty much guess where that plot leads. The twist comes when Hannah learns that a huge, aggressive company wants to buy the property for a mining venture. Of course, that means razing the resort, destroying the natural landscape, and erasing life amid woodsmoke and quiet places.

I didn't expect to be taken by this book as I was. It rekindled memories - sight, sounds, smells...all of it came rushing back, and I found myself digging through the few family albums I had packed away. You see, my great-parents, Sam and Anna owned a small fishing resort in
Townsend, Wisconsin. Sam's parents had owned and operated a vaudville playhouse in Marinette, so I'm thinking Sma and Anna bought the near-by resort on a whim to stay close to family. I never knew Sam. Anna died when I was in second grade. Each spring and fall we squished ourselves into the car - my parents, my grand-parents, and Anna - and went "up-north." Of course, I figured we were vacationing, but now I understand that those were the times we were opening and closing the cottages. A relative across the road operated them the rest of the season.
I'm pretty sure the man with the dangling butt is my grandfather -gramps - Frank. the picture was taken in 1941. He and I spent many early mornings fishing on Big Horn Lake which was filled with blue gill and Northern. He taught me how to fish from beginning to end, yes, I scaled and gutted, too!
The cottages were quite primitive. There were outhouses, men's and women's identified by pictures of dogs on the doors - setters and pointers. The woods were filled with bear, or maybe that's just what they told me to keep me close to home. The lake was full of lily pads, and the days without TV and radio seemed endless. It was at the cottages that I fell in love with rainstorms. The cottages are still somewhere in the family, but quite distantly so. After finishing the book, I got out a map, to see exactly where this part of my past lies. I am hoping to travel back there sometime this fall just because. Thank you Sara Rath.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs turned out to be tons of fun. We had three spirited audiences. You never know what will happen when you invite kids on stage. Our six little dwarfs fell into place nicely at each show, following the lead of our very tall, chief dwarf, Chuck. We did have one over-achieving dwarf, who chimed in with lines, moved into place blocking Snow White from the evil Queen, and even picking our Queen, Lyndsey up off the floor at one point. You just never know.
Before the show, the kids were kept busy visiting with theatre helpers and having their faces painted. Here are Emma, Terri and Madysen sharing a squeeze in the lobby. Both girls were chosen from a hat to be dwarfs. During the show, Madysen suggested to Snow White that she make corn dogs for dinner since both she and Emma enjoy them. Snowy decided on mac and cheese instead. After the show, I stopped at the grocery store, where I found the girls buying... yup...corn dogs and mac and cheese.
Speaking of over-achievers, we have another post from Steve ready to go. Keep watching for it.

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