We live in a resort town.
Consequently, we live in a town whose population triples in the summer.
It is weird how it happened that we came to live in this town. Flipping back through the pages of time in my own life journey, I come across a page when my career as a journalist takes an unexpected turn.
And, so as destiny would have it, or the winds of fate, or simply because I applied for the job, and got lucky, I ended up here, in this resort town whose population triples in the summer.
I was the newly hired editor of The Sylvan Lake News. It was a dream job for me. I carefully placed my new sign, ‘left-handed genius at work’ on my desk, grabbed my notebook and loaded film into my trust Pentax camera. And I was ready to go.
Ahh! Those were the days.
When I moved here, I brought my entire family with me. That being said, my entire family included my husband and three children who were all off to university and home only sometimes. We also owned a cat named Tiffany who was home all the time.
Those were the years when we were almost, but not quite empty nesters.
You know how that goes.
They come home to do laundry. They come home for you to do the laundry. They come home to borrow the car. They come to eat. They come home to sleep.
I loved those years. Those in-between-years when I could somehow imagine all of us together again and I would use the big pot to cook potatoes and buy the family-size hamburger packages in the hopes that I, once again, could set the table for five. And it did happen. Occasionally.
When my kids graced our home with their presence, they quite loved it here in this resort town their parents had decided to call home.
Summer at the best of times is pretty cool. I mean you can shed your inhibitions along with your layered look if you so desire. The beach is full of lots of eye candy for both sexes.
And then there is the ice cream. The melt on your tongue delicious ice cream.
When I was a kid, Sylvan Lake was a place of magic. I remember driving east in an old ’49 Pontiac with my dad and a nondescript Heinz ’57 dog named Smoky over the hill on the old No. 11 highway and there it lay, in all its glory, the lake, its shining waters shimmering in the sun. I remember the feel the hot boards of that old wooden pier under the soles of my feet and the cool, sweet taste of ice cream on my tongue.
It felt like summer, it tasted like summer. It was summer.
I am saddened this summer to hear of two incidences of violence on Lakeshore Drive. It is like this image of perfection has been cracked irrevocably beyond repair, but then when I look back on the history of the lake, itself, I realize there is more than one crack in this image of perfection.
But, still, the lake, itself remains constant and unchanging like the seasons themselves.
And the feel of the sun, warm on your head, the hot sand under your feet and the icy cold spill of water on your skin is as tantalizing and addictive as ever.
This year I brought my grandchildren to the beach just like I do every year and it felt right and good. And, in that instant, I knew that I was blessed for many reasons, not the least of which is able to hold a child’s hand on one sun drenched day in summer when the sand was hot beneath our feet and the ice cream was melt on our tongue delicious.
And, I smiled, as this child looked out over the shining expanse that is Sylvan Lake in wonder and awe.
“Look, grandma,” he said, incredulously. “The ocean.”
Treena Mielke is a Central Alberta writer. She lives in Sylvan Lake with her family.