It happened every August. A Sunday morning would dawn like every other had that summer. I’d climb out of bed as the smell of melting butter in a frying pan wafted my way. Eggs were on the way, which meant I had just enough time to grab a glass of juice and scan the Sunday paper for the funny pages.
Flipping through the stack of ads, I’d see it and immediately lose my appetite. In big bold letters across the top of a clothing store ad were the words, “Back To School.”
Slamming down my juice glass, I’d mutter something about not being hungry and grab my towel, jogging to the beach, racing the sun to the water. Diving in, feeling the icy morning water hit my skin, I’d swim like my life depended on it. Then, just as suddenly, I’d leap from the water, drying myself off as I hurried to the cabin shed to yank my bike free of the various rakes and shovels that had ensnared it.
Pedaling furiously along dusty, wooded trails, anyone who spied me would assume I was being chased. I guess that was kind of true. I was being chased by the end of summer.
I knew that the arrival of those ads meant the arrival of a new school year, when rules and responsibility would encroach on my life of leisure. And so, every summer, I’d spend that Sunday scurrying from activity to activity, desperate to soak up every last bit of cabin fun I could, my brain repeating the same thought over and over: “One last swim. One last ride.”
Now that I’m older, summer vacations are a thing of the past, and the ads that appear every August in my Sunday paper don’t get much reaction from me as I race past them on my way to the funny pages. As an adult with a career, family and lots of responsibilities, most of my vacations are my weekends at the cabin.
Arriving on a Friday night, the weekend feels endless. By Sunday morning, however, the thought of returning to the city and another week of rules and responsibilities has me acting like my 10-year-old self again, forgoing the cabin chores as I dart from the lake to the trails to the boat. The entire frantic time my childhood mantra plays in my head: “One last swim. One last ride.”
Maybe that’s why I find myself constantly researching ways to turn my northern Minnesota summer cabin into a year-round retreat. If going to the cabin is always an option, maybe I’ll never feel that way on a Sunday again.
Maybe I’ll never find myself sprinting across my property, mumbling to myself the whole way: “One last swim. One last ride. One last time.”
Andy Bennett’s favorite restaurant is only open during the summer. He blames several years of “One Last Meal” for his pants being a little snug.