This Labor Day brought an unexpected treat, sweeping me off the northwestern trail and on to good Ol’ Kewanna, Indiana. Visiting my grandparents at their Lake Bruce house, this was a rare opportunity to get in some country biking during my short stay at this beautiful rose of a town.
When I was six years old my grandparents purchased a quaint little cottage on the secluded Bruce Lake near Winamac. Ever since then my summers have been filled with bass fishing, boat rides and S’mores around the fire pit. However, with the old timers’ recent retirement and the unavoidable calling of Florida ringing in their ears, it became explicitly clear that this was probably going to be our last summer in Kewanna.
With the words “For Sale” looming right outside the door, it felt a little odd to think that someday there would be no more sunny days spent on Bruce Lake. This place had been with our family since the first time I picked up a fishing net, felt the thrill of tubing and the joy of midday dips at the swimming spot (a sectioned off area in the middle of the lake). Every outdoor hobby I explored, this humble, little lake more than provided for. Now with the uncertainty of a return visit, I begged this old friend to open up its enchanting roads one last time.
I set out on my bike just as the sun was beginning to descend, flirting with the horizon. Corn fields shimmered like tarnished gold as streams rippled in a drowsy gurgle, already asleep in the afternoon breeze. Taking the irregular circle around the lake, I made my way casually down the thin country roads, remembering only to utilize left turns so I wouldn’t get lost.
The experience was like riding through a Norman Rockwell painting, each nuance of the countryside brushing character into the canvas. A tattered barn leaned on its side like an old man on a crutch. Rusted, worn out fishing boats rested idly in tin sheds, apparently accustomed to life on land. Birds serenaded the setting sun as the crickets struck their harps, beckoning the night. Every man, woman and child gave a courteous wave as I rode by, a traditional neighborly greeting… but now a sad farewell.
It was hard to identify what it was about this place that made me so happy. Was it the water? The sun? Fishing? Or the S’mores? No, these things I could find at any manmade lake. Something much deeper resided within this place, something I could never sell or lose… memories. Long summer sleepovers with my friends, playing the ancient original Nintendo on rainy days, hiking out to the suspension bridge just for the sake of crossing it and sneaking out early in the morning to get the jump on some unsuspecting fish. These moments were the very essence of my Bruce Lake, preserved in time, unchanging. And as I thought about this, it gave me a sense of closure and peace. It wasn’t the lake, the boat rides, the fishing or the swimming that held such a special place in my heart, but the moments I spent with those I love creating a lake of memories that will never run dry.