Stories from the Stringam Family Ranches of Southern Alberta

From the 50s and 60s to today . . .



Sunday, May 26, 2013

Summer on the Lake

It's finally starting to feel like summer.
So, a repost of summer memories.
Enjoy . . .

Our family loved staying at our friends' cabin in Waterton Lakes Park.
So much so that my Dad finally felt we should have our own.
Cabin, I mean.
And the rest of us, picturing days happily spent on the lake, were very easily convinced.
Perfect!
He scouted around for a nice piece of property.
And finally found one on St. Mary Lake, just outside of Glacier National Park, Montana – across the border from the ranch.
It was truly beautiful. Clear, icy-cold, blue water.
And I do mean icy. Brrr.
Pure air. Lots of trees.
We fell in love.
The only thing missing was the . . . cabin.
No problem. Dad would build it.
He chose a design and ordered materials which were duly delivered.
And immediately stolen.
Our cabin plans were almost abandoned before they even got off the ground.
But, finally, Dad took a deep breath and ordered some more.
They came. And this time, they stayed.
He moved in a small travel trailer and we took up residence. Then began to prepare the land.
Work commences.
It was hot, hard work - cutting down a few of the trees and tearing out brush.
Sweat ran freely.
I know. Because I was watching carefully, can of black cherry pop in one hand and hot dog in the other.
But before you begin to think I was entirely useless, I must point out that I helped carry some of the rocks over to the lake to help construct our boat dock.
Okay. So...not entirely useless.
That's me in front. Hefting.
Small rocks.
Really small rocks.
Okay, I was useless.
Before too long, Dad and my brothers had cleared a spot large enough for our cabin.
I don't remember much of the building apart from the sounds of hammering and sawing and the wonderful smell of fresh-cut lumber.
Ha! My baby sister didn't help at all.
Mom kept me near her.
Across the road from the action.
My reputation for getting in the way was obviously well known.
Moving on . . .
The cabin went up magically.
In no time, we had a master bedroom where my oldest sister could sit and tell us scary stories.
Two smaller bedrooms with built-in bunk beds for the smaller kids to fall out of.
Which they did.
And a wonderful kitchen/dining/living room where Mom could make the food magic happen.
Mmm. Food.
Oh, and there was also a big, open fireplace . . . thing. I think that, technically, it was a wood stove. But it was screened on all sides. Wonderful for gathering around on a cool summer evening.
For visiting.
Something my family excelled at.
The cabin had huge windows facing the lake. And a large deck.
Another favourite place where we could sit and watch the water.
And dream.
Something else I excelled at.
We spent a few summers at the lake.
I remember evenings on the deck, looking out over the water and just breathing in the glorious air.
Boating.
Splashing around in the frigid water.
Icy cold cans of pop out of the lake.
Games played beside a snapping fire.
Wiener/marshmallow roasts.
Hide and seek in the trees.
Ghost stories.
Visit with the neighbours. (Once, a for-real professional sheepherder drove his flock right past the cabin and we got to see the inside of his wagon.)
It was wonderful.
But it ended.
Several times, when we weren't in residence, the cabin was broken into and vandalized.
The last time, someone smashed the large picture window, leaving blood everywhere.
Dad replaced the window and promptly sold the cabin.
Too bad.
Because it was wonderful way to spend the summer.

There is a codicil.
A year or so after my Dad sold the cabin, a good friend of his stopped him on the street, shook a finger in his face and told him what a bad boy he was.
Bewildered, my Dad frowned at his friend. “What are you talking about?”
The man grinned. “We were boating on the [St. Mary] lake and decided to drop in and visit with you and Enes. Once we got there, we realized that you weren't home, but I remembered where you hid the key, so I opened the door and we went in to see if you had left any pop in the fridge.” The man shook his head. “I can't tell you how surprised I was to find it full of beer!”
My parents were well known for their tee-totalling habits.
Dad laughed. “I guess you didn't hear that I sold that cabin.”
The man's mouth dropped open.
“Yeah. A year or so ago.”
“So . . . it's not your cabin?”
“Right.”
“So . . . breaking and entering.”
“Right.”
Even when it no longer belonged to us, the cabin continued to entertain.
I miss it.
Squirrels on the deck of the Stringam cabin.

10 comments:

  1. Haha Diane, that last part was funny:)

    I remember summer days like this when we used to visit our cousins cabin... they were some good memories :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aren't they the very best memories?!

      Delete
  2. I wonder if it was a deer that went through your window at the cabin. What a shame your folks had to let it go.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No, it was definitely human. Someone used some of the towels to try to mop up the blood. Yuck!

      Delete
  3. Yeah, Tude and Joe were trying to fish at Duck Lake. It was too windy so they drove over to the cabin (small correction there). They helped themselves to a beer and snacks. Even had a nap before heading home. Joe never lived that one down.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ah! I thought they used our handy-dandy little hand-stacked dock! But I did have the rest of it right. Right?

      Delete
  4. At least you have these fabulous memories and write about them, very well I might add.

    The friend should count his lucky stars (where did that phrase come from?) that the new owner wasn't in at the time!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you, Susan! Yeah. One can only imagine what the new owner would have done if he had come home to his two 'guests'! :)

      Delete
  5. Too bad, isn't it, when those with no scruples go ahead and prove it. Those summers you had your cabin must have been delightful, though!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We kids just remember the wonderful times. It might have take a bit longer and a bit more money than expected, but still we had them! Yay!

      Delete

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Diane was born and raised on one of the last of the great old Southern Alberta ranches. A way of life that is fast disappearing now. Through her memories and stories, she keeps it alive. And even, at times, accurate . . .

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