You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.

GREAT REASONS TO SUBSCRIBE TODAY!

  • IN-DEPTH REPORTING
  • INTERACTIVE STORYTELLING
  • NEW TOPICS & COVERAGE
  • ePAPER
X

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.

X

Welcome to SpringfieldNewsSun.com

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

Stafford: Deerfly ruled at Norway Lake


WATTON, Mich. — It was a day off, and my wife was sleeping in.

So after watching a little tennis, I drove to my friend’s place so my quart-size coffee cup could slop its contents in the car.

He spotted me coming down the street and was backing up into his driveway so he could jump in for a ride to the auto supply store.

On the way, I got a rundown about plans to paint the cab of the ‘34 pickup he’s rebuilding.

I didn’t have to speak on the way back, which was set aside for a rant about how half the amount of the second-best paint tape costs twice as much as a full roll of the good stuff used to.

It’s just like everything else at a time when the liars say there’s no inflation going on, but the packages are getting smaller while the prices are remaining the same, if that. Bunch of robbers wearing suits.

So we were back in the garage by the time he told me his dad had called.

That was good news, because it doesn’t happen all that often.

His sister had called too. And while that isn’t such an unusual thing, the combination reminded me it was the Fourth of July.

For the patriotic, the holiday means independence and firecrackers; portraits of George Washington and the three guys with the fife, drum and flag.

In that spirit, I did follow “Cowboy” Jeff Brantley’s advice during the Reds game the night before and re-read the Declaration of Independence.

Once I got past the fancy stuff at the beginning, the Declaration began to read like a list of grievances cobbled together by tenants against an absentee landlord they’d come to hate. If you strip all the holiday bunting and fireworks away, that’s likely a fair parallel.

But the Fourth is a family event, too, though not in a way that moves us to buy greeting cards.

In its family form, the holiday reaches out with a tide-like force, as if the moon also managed to move the water around in our brains in a way that activates the human instinct, first felt among by knuckle-dragging forebears, to make potato salad.

Over the course of a lifespan, repeated exposure to that force and loss or thinning of hair sets the stage for the time when the force conjures up fond memories spent in the company of baked beans, marshmallows, picnic tables and brats (both the children and the sausages).

When I got back home, I called my mom to tell her how, standing in my friend’s garage, remembering our family Fourths, I’d begun to tell him stories about Norway Lake.

Norway Lake is south and west of my grandparents’ old place on Michigan 28, an hour plus west of Marquette.

It’s an inland lake accessed by former logging roads that are are made of gravel, dust and dappled sunlight held together, in my memory, at least, by the tar lingering in the scent of thousands of pine trees.

In the same way, I remember holidays spent at the lake as a Cracker Jack amalgam of cream soda and orange pop, marshmallows and the circus peanuts my grandfather so loved — of spice cake in a cellophane wrapper, the smell of coffee, hot dogs cooked on campground grills and my cousin, Glen, who was born on the Fourth, frying up the biggest hamburger I’d ever seen on a cast iron skillet he brought along just for that purpose.

The roots of trees tried to trip us up all over the campground, and pine needles were everywhere but the sand of the beach, a place we had to dash through because that we weren’t the only creatures who’d arrived for a holiday feast.

Deerfly bulked up like Barry Bonds seemed to be carrying cutlery with which they sliced into us with delight and vigor. Only the cold of water and our lung capacity kept us from staying submerged during the whole swim. In that time before hypothermia was mentioned, the only warm sensation we experienced in the water was one of which we were slightly ashamed.

Though the horseflies clearly preferred the tender flesh of the back, my creepiest memory is of them gnawing on the back of my scalp.

A couple of years ago for my parents’ 60th anniversary, my brother and I rooted up some old Kodachrome slides of a Norway Lake Fourth. Some of the folks at the picnic table are wearing jackets against the summer cool.

Looking at them all, I can feel the cool of the shade and smell the scent of pine.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Community News

These 10 big US retailers might not exist in 2018
These 10 big US retailers might not exist in 2018

Just four months into 2017, 10 U.S. retailers have filed for bankruptcy. Last year, the total number of American retailers that declared bankruptcy was 18. And, according to new insights from S&P Global Market Intelligence that were released last week, there are more to come. “The convenience of online shopping, and the downward pressure...
Dennis Kucinich in Dayton region tonight as governor run rumors grow
Dennis Kucinich in Dayton region tonight as governor run rumors grow

Dennis Kucinich, a potential candidate for governor and former Ohio congressman, will speak tonight in Washington Township, where he is expected to criticize charter schools as a drain on public funding and public schools. Kucinich, a Cleveland Democrat, spoke earlier today in Columbus, where he told the Columbus Dispatch, that he would not &ldquo...
Elton John cancels shows following release from hospital due to infection
Elton John cancels shows following release from hospital due to infection

Singer Elton John has cancelled all of his Las Vegas shows at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace through May after he was sent to the Intensive Care Unit following a rare infection, according to Rolling Stone. The Colosseum at Caesars Palace issued the following statement on its Facebook page Monday: Variety reported that fans who purchased tickets...
Whole Foods faced with possible takeover bid as shares jump
Whole Foods faced with possible takeover bid as shares jump

Supermarket chain Albertsons is exploring a possible takeover of Austin-based Whole Foods Market, the Financial Times is reporting, citing unnamed sources. Albertsons, which operates about 2,200 stores, is controlled by buyout group Cerberus Capital Management. Cerberus has had preliminary talks with bankers about making a bid for Whole Foods, the...
State cracking down on lead hazards in homes
State cracking down on lead hazards in homes

There are hundreds of homes in Ohio that have paint and other entities that are poisoning children with lead and state health officials want them left unoccupied until abatement issues are addressed. The Ohio Department of Health is working to compile a list of residential properties across the state that have unaddressed lead hazards. They are also...
More Stories