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The Beauty of Nostalgia at the Cabin

Christy Heitger-Ewing thinks that if everyone could experience life at a cabin, the world would be a happier place.

Written by Christy Heitger-Ewing


I treasure hot, sunny days at the cabin when the family is on the water from dawn ’til dusk – boating, floating, swimming, sailing, fishing and wishing the day would never end. Last summer, however, when I awoke to the sweet sound of raindrops pelting the windowsill, my tight, prickly skin did a happy dance, grateful for Mother Nature’s brief respite from the sun’s intense rays.

As pancake batter sizzled on the stove and thunder clapped in the distance, my sons opened the cabinet that housed our collection of card, word, trivia, and board games. We had everything from Battleship to Boggle, Candy Lane to Clue, Sorry to Scrabble, Pictionary to Pie Face.

“Check this out,” Kyler said, holding up a 1977 Parker Brothers board game. Just one look at the faded, tattered box brought back a flood of memories – and spawned an idea.

“How would you boys like to see Mommy at the cabin when I was a little girl?” I asked. I dug behind the extra linens in the guest closet and unearthed our slide projector and dozens of slide reels dating back to the 1970s.

Magnificent musty memories escaped as the reel’s container lid lifted, transporting me back in time. The faint hum of the projector in the dimmed lights, the dust particles that hung in the air of the cylindrical projector beam, and the crisp click of the reel as it advanced to the next image momentarily held me captive in a bygone era.

“Is that you, Mommy?” Trevyn asked when the first slide appeared. “You’re so little.”

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“So is the cabin!” Kyler noted, referencing the saplings in the photo that were just taking root but now tower above the property, throwing massive shade.

Children grow up. Adults grow old. People wither. Structures weather. Landscapes evolve, as do families. We all know these universal truths, and yet, life, in pictures, tends to remind us of the fleeting nature of our time spent with friends and family, making us appreciate moments like this even more.

I pressed the “next” button on the projector, bringing into focus a slide of me and my mom at the cabin. My breath caught in my throat as the piercing sting of grief momentarily grabbed hold of my heart. God, how I still missed her, deep within my bones. But as I studied Mom’s kind eyes and gentle smile, beautiful memories rushed to the surface, replacing the pang of pain with overflowing gratitude.

“Look!” Kyler said, motioning toward the window. “Skies are clearing. Let’s go play in the waves!”

The boys got changed and bolted toward the lake. I grabbed the camera and followed behind to ensure future slide shows and bittersweet nostalgia.