Labor Day Blues
Labor Day is a holiday that signals a time of change in my calendar. All of the vacation home people enjoy this holiday as their last hoorah on our lake. Us old timers on the lake celebrate with a “chili dump” party every year for the last 20 years.
We all meet at the same house every year. Our children are adults and we see grand children racing around just like our children used to do. People arrive by boat, by car, and on foot. Everybody brings a pot of chili plus a side dish or desert. We are happy to see everybody together healthy and happy. Some faces are now just memories after their passing. Their surviving spouses carry on and party.
A huge cauldron sized kettle gets all of the chili dumped in. I forgot this year to bring my favorite Cajun hot sauce to spice my chili bowl dining. A massive ladle stirs the mix, and the kids get hungry and anxious to eat supper. Our friend Steve always ignores the bedlam and we chat over a nice cold beer waiting for the ladies to organize the wild Indians. The cauldron is set onto a massive plank so it won’t burn off the varnish on their long dining room table. Shredded cheese is on a massive bowl to top your chili. Frito scoop chips and crackers are ready to help in devouring the chili. After an hour of 18 adults and 10 kids feasting, there is usually 5 gallons of chili left in the kettle.
Every year is different but every year is the same. Some get drunk one year and need a ride home. Most don’t get drunk and sit around bare foot in their 20 feet high ceiling cabin telling tales and jokes. The kids keep busy down at the lake front with frog catching contests and goofing around. They flip on their outdoor lights down the 40 foot hill to the lake front for the kids to see. The dogs are racing around happy for the company and some scraps of food usually forbidden. I like to see at the bar on a stool near my wife and drift in and out of several conversations.
The skies let loose a torrent of rain that went on for 5 hours this year. Lightning lit up the sky and thunder trembled the huge windows facing the lake. The boat travelers who came by pontoon huddled under their boat canopy as they went back across the lake to their home. As usual everybody got some chili for taking home in their pot. Anne usually packages up several meals in the freezer to enjoy in the winter. We will have our fireplace blazing away looking out from our dining room table at our snow covered lake enjoying chili from this evening.
So the slow annual exodus from the lake starts this week. There is a lot less traffic in town and around the restaurants after the summertime crowd disappears every year.
I had to listen to some New Orleans jazz while setting up the barbeque for our dinner of bratwurst. Al Hirt always gets me in a good mood on my outdoor speakers while I watch the twilight over the lake. Dem Golden Slippers and Ain’t Misbehaving are great fun.
This Christmas we will be visiting New Orleans to greet Papa Noel and listen to a lot of jazz with my son and his fiancée coming from Seattle to join us with our hockey coach son.