The Healing Waters of Crystal Lake: Mom Horning Story #5

It rained the other morning, after many days of unremitting 90 degree heat.  I flung open the door onto the yard, and the smell of newly washed air wafted into the room and swept me back to my youth.  Kicking off slippers, I stepped onto the porch and down to the lawn.  As I did as a child, I wiggled toes to feel the clinging crispness and refreshing chill of the greening grass.  I stood tall to breathe in the sweetness of blade and bloom.  For a moment, time was lost.  Then the sound of the traffic, the blast of car stereo, and the smell of coffee drew me back.  I wiped off wet feet on the rough sisal mat, drew my robe more tightly around me, and walked into the present, to read the paper, drink hot brew and plan my day.
Water, the sound, smell and sight of water, in any form, has been a passion, a power in my life.  This Love came to me when I was about six.  The stock market crash had devastated our family.  My father’s health and livelihood had crumpled and we were emotionally adrift.  Then friends invited us to an outing at their lake cottage.  We picnicked in pine scented woods and later followed a path that led along the shore of this sparsely peopled Kettle Moraine tarn. 
The only sounds were the muted calls of birds, the buzz of insects and the soft pats of our footsteps on the leaf mold under the trees.  Occasional “oohs” of wonder escaped our lips as we watched Kingfishers swoop into the water after fish, or saw darting, brightly colored dragonflies dancing over the waves.  We walked on past areas we would later name Lily Bay, with its haunted house, and paused to watch painted turtles bask on logs, then gently slide into rippled water in “Turtle Bay.”  Treading through the forest of large trees, we soon came to “Our” Bay.  It was so quiet.  So peaceful, so welcoming.  The huge toad in a hollowed ancient Linden tree croaked a greeting.  Suddenly, we, as a group—laughed—and conversation flowed.  This was the start—a renewal of Hope—and a beginning of eight of the most memorable summers of my Life.
Near the healing waters of Crystal Lake we built our house.  I learned to swim and, from the boat, watched large bass blow sand from their chosen area in which to spawn and raise their young.  I climbed trees and fished.  I rowed a boat and grew brown and strong.  I enjoyed my own company and learned to love and understand the forest and Lake—and to appreciate this wonderful land that God had made—and sometimes, in my mind, I still hear the lap, lap, lap of the waves as they touch the shore.

Family Note: Auntie Emma K., who fitted dresses at a fancy department store, bought the cottage on Crystal Lake around 1929.  She and Auntie Julia K., the special education teacher, took Mom and Aunt Jewel there to spend the summer in the healthy outdoors.  Grandpa M. worked in the city, but he and Grandma came to the cottage on the weekends to see their daughters and go fishing.
G.M. Horning


  1. What a precious, poetic recollection! Thanks for sharing this memory from her, and for asking Mom further details about the Emma and Julia portion of the story. We've each inherited directly from her the same zest for water and woodlands and creatures God designed for His glory and our good.


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