Fun in the Sun

Castlegar News bi-weekly columnist Karen Haviland casts a fond glance back to her youthful forays to Seattle's Lake Union.

Karen Haviland

I’m a beach bum. To me, there is nothing better than the feel of gritty sand between my toes and the warm summer sun upon my head.

Some of my best memories stem from days long since passed in which my brothers and I would sneak off, unbeknownst to mom and dad, down to Lake Union in Seattle.

Mom and dad were fussbudgets when it came to their children around water. They demanded that we always have an adult supervising us, even if we were all of 14. Now, you all know that adults, teenagers and the beach just don’t mix. After all, how much real teenage fun can you possibly have when at least one pair of adult eyes is fixed upon your every move?

The trek down to Lake Union was not an easy one. The incline was so steep that most times we butt scuttled down the hill right to the bottom. Difficult – yes. But it was well worth it when we finally reached the cooling waters of the normally placid lake.

Usually there were eight or ten of us who would meet at the lake for a day of frolicking in the cool, clear water. That’s when we would cut loose and, far from the prying eyes and ears of adults pretend we were adults complete with foul language and raunchy tales.

Sometimes one or the other would whip out a pack of forbidden cigarettes and we would toughly puff our lungs out, hacking and coughing the whole time believing we were the coolest kids ever. Ha!

It really was harmless fun, for the most part, even when someone suggested we go skinny dipping. Thinking of that in itself makes me grin as I write this. Of course, someone had to suggest it, and the other sheep would follow. Baaaaa.

Turning our backs to each other, we would quickly divest ourselves of our bathing suits and run, as fast as we could, into the water hoping that the water would cover our scrawny, gangly, teenage bodies.

Of course, the unspoken rule was that we always swam far enough away from each other that we never really did get to see anything risqué. But we sure did feel risqué.

Of course, someone had to always spoil that. In one case it was my brother who yelled, “Hey look! I see a whale!”

Even though we knew there were no whales in Lake Union, we looked anyway. With a big grin upon his face my brother, who was 12 at the time, dropped completely under the water, then popped up and finished his grand finale with his head, torso and legs under the water and his chubby butt poking above the surface. I guess we were wrong – there was one whale in the lake that day.

Our summers were spent down at Lake Union, always scurrying back up that incline at the end of the day in a race to beat mom and dad home from work.

Mom and dad would arrive home and ask their children how their day was. With angelic, sun-kissed faces, we would always tell them that the day was a bit boring. That wasn’t a very bright thing to do. If you had parents like my parents, their stock answer to being bored was, “If you’re bored I can find something for you to do.” We soon learned to leave out the bored part and began improvising several stories of which we were sure they would approve.

I often think about those long, lazy days on Lake Union and it sometimes shocks me to realize that I am heading into my 61st year. Despite the passage of years, the kid inside of me remains, and that includes my love of the water.

I hope you have a great summer around the water.

Please stay safe.

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