Lake Imagination…30 miles from nowhere


Frozen Lake Imagination

You’re right. It’s not a lake. It’s a hay field covered with snow. And if it appears to be barren, bleak, and cold, in the winter it is. But someone once-upon-a-time had the romantic notion that it looked like a frozen body of water and Lake Imagination was born. The sun rises in the east and sets in the west here, as it does everywhere on earth. It’s just that it does it more quickly in the winter, leaving only about 8 hours of chilly daylight.


The climate isn’t conducive to comfort and ease. People here have to pay attention just to survive. If you step outside without the necessary insulation surrounding your body it won’t take long before your extremities freeze solid. I’ll be kind and refrain from saying anything about the questionable intelligence of life-forms who choose to live in this isolated place. After all, it was my home for many years and I have a healthy respect for anyone who thrives under these circumstances.


View of Lake Imagination through the Christmas Tree


Indoor hanging gardens at ‘the lake’

But there is a warmth of heart that radiates love when family and friends gather in this place, 30 miles from nowhere, to celebrate rituals and pay homage to the passing of time. My sister lives here and swears allegiance to her Scandinavian roots buried deep in the permafrost. And her husband, though he grew up in southern climes, swears too, although not always allegiance!


Gwen, the consummate hostess, shakes a stick of Gula Kelapa, coconut palm sugar, threateningly as she prepares Norwegian/Balinese fusion.

Gwen, my sister, had offered to let me make a Balinese meal for the yearly Christmas Open House that happens at their place. I knew better! Balinese cuisine isn’t fast food. I could see myself spending an entire day shopping for unavailable ingredients, and another day up to my eyeballs in food prep. That is NOT my idea of “all is calm…all is bright!” So she settled for Norwegian lefse stuffed with Balinese palm sugar and Bali Kopi along with other, more traditional fare.


Gwen’s home made, hand decorated, amazing holiday cookies.

You see, Gwen thinks nothing of spending weeks making these unbelievable confections. She and her hubby, ‘W’ (not to be confused with the former pres of the U.S., George W) are kitchen wizards.  They imagine that everyone can pull off a gourmet meal at the drop of a hat. I’ve been telling them for years I can’t cook. But Gwen refuses to believe that the same gene pool that spawned her could possibly yield up anything less than a domestic Wonderwoman. I do other things well, I tell myself, and try to remember what those things are.


Mr. Kitchen Wizard

Actually, I know one thing I do better than some. I play a pretty mean game of Scrabble. Just the night before, after losing all three games of Cribbage to Gwen, I beat her at three games of Scrabble. Then, high on the adrenaline rush of victory, I ate the rest of a jar of caramel corn that W had made. The following morning he got up, noted the empty jar, and promptly popped more corn, made the syrup, and presto! The jar that is sitting on the bar right in front of him was full again.


Playing ‘Texas Mean’ with the family…mom looks angelic all in white!

One of the highlights of any family get-together is playing ‘Texas Mean.’ Mom and Dad brought the game home with them after visiting our snowbird relatives in southern Texas. In his woodworking shop, Dad copied the wooden board. Over the years he made dozens of Texas Mean Games, passing them out to family and friends. Now, at 90 years old, he still wins almost every time.  He’s sitting on my left. On this day we were playing partners and, true to form, Dad and his partner were undefeated.


Jessa and her Grandpa.

After the games, Dad relaxed with Jessa, enjoying the sunshine reflecting off Lake Imagination. Several neighbors stopped by to visit. Anyone who lives within a 30 mile radius is neighbor potential since that totals a whopping 12 people. The conversation was a far cry from what I remember from my youth. Back then…waaaay back then…the men sat in the living room and talked farming while the women clustered in the kitchen swapping recipes and neighborhood gossip.

On this day, however, neighbor Kent Lorentzen, was telling about e-publishing his Favorite Farmers Market Recipes cookbook on Amazon. Another couple said they would stop to visit me in Bali on their trip around the world next year. Mom and Dad sat listening, smiling, nodding as though nothing had changed at all, even though as young newlyweds television hadn’t been invented, let alone the world wide web.

I suddenly felt disoriented. Walking to the wall of windows I gazed out over crystalline stillness. Lake Imagination is a place where you are only limited by what you dare to dream. For a minute I saw little Sherry, all those years ago, trying to step in her father’s muddy footprints as she followed him to the milking barn. Her stubby legs strained to reach his stride. Her dream then was to make him proud. And if I’m 100% honest with myself, it really hasn’t changed much.

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