By Leslie Lindsay
Having recently read Tanya Chernov’s memoir A REAL EMOTIONAL GIRL, I reached out to extend my kudos on her moving account. It’s relatable to many–loss, grief, and ulimately a place of home. Her family camp for girls “up north” will always represent comfort, safety, and love for her.
What Gathers Beneath the Surface
“Though I was born in Milwaukee, I spent much of my childhood at the summer camp my family owns and operates in northwestern Wisconsin. “Up North,” where the mosquitoes are said to grow as big as hummingbirds, and the nearest town has perplexingly sustained a population of 521 souls, the region harbors a blissfully stagnant kind of atmosphere. A quiet exists there you can’t find elsewhere in the world, a quiet you haven’t heard since 1985. Maybe even ’82.
There’s a spit of swampland between the butt of our lake and curve of County Road I, where—even that far from our boundaries—you can hear the laughter and cheering of the campers issuing a steady susurrus from down the road. I like to paddle my solo canoe out there sometimes, all the way to the marshy end where I run risk of getting caught up in the muck. If I get close enough, though, I can see it.
When the first to live here came around, our Lake Pokegama wasn’t much more than a weed-filled pond. The townsfolk lowered a steel snow-plow blade down into the murky water to serve as a dam, stopping up the flowage as best they could. The plow blade is still down there, holding the water and lord knows what else at bay. It went in at a time when permits weren’t involved in such things, and since no government outfit seems of the mind to take it out, there it remains to this day, collecting layers of rust and algae and legend.
I’ve lived in Seattle for almost 15 years now, which seems an awfully long time for a 32 year old, and I’ve made it my home. But Up North is home home. Always will be. Life there still slows down enough for lore to settle and collect.”
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