Grand Openings

By Kathy Oswalt-Forsythe

I recently returned from a week in Ontario, a time of rest and renewal at our family retreat on the northern shore of Lake Superior.

Here is our old place. It never really changes.

I look forward to our days there all year long. We travel north, cross the Mackinaw Bridge, skip across the Upper Peninsula, hold our breath at the border, and then wind our way along the rocky Lake Superior coastline to our cabin. It takes most of a day, and when we finally leave the confines of the car and stretch towards the pines, it’s like we’ve left our worries behind.

The driveway to our camp. Just looking at this helps me relax.

It is rustic, but not too rustic, as we do have indoor plumbing and electricity—but it’s rustic enough that I have no cell service, that the nearest shopping center is an hour away, that our favorite entertainment is gathering around a fire and watching the stars appear in the clear Canadian sky.

Here, we have no garbage service. Cottage owners cart their weekly refuse to an area landfill, a twenty-minute-drive from our camp. Yes, it’s a bit inconvenient, and out of a sense of duty, I take the dump trip with my mother, a woman who has never met a stranger.

My mom and I. She could teach the Dale Carnegie Course “How to Win Friends and Influence People.”

She loves conversation and is actually looking forward to this journey to the dump saying, “I need to see if my buddy is still working there.”

“You have a buddy there?”

“Well, yes, I talk to him every year.”

Of course she does.

She has a “buddy” at every stop we might make—the gas station, the camp store, the lodge where she buys her fishing license. This is no surprise, especially since she has spent time up here every summer of her life.

So we roll the windows down, and my mother and I, along with her dog and two extra-large leaf bags of garbage begin our trek.

On our way we pass a tiny roadside restaurant—open but neglected—its surrounding yard and even edges of the parking lot are decorated with several cast-off lawn mowers, a couple old grills, and numerous rusty and broken lawn chairs. The place has been on this road a long time. A decade ago, it held some promise, but no more.

I can’t imagine opening the tattered screen door and entering the establishment.

Across the faded cedar siding of the low building is a banner that reads, “Grand Opening.”

My mom says, “I heard that Grand Opening was long time ago.”

“Well, maybe they have lots of Grand Openings?” I reply.

We discuss this and conclude “Maybe every day is a Grand Opening?” And we smile.

Isn’t that how we want to greet each day? To embrace people we love? To treat those we encounter along the way?

We repeat the phrase several times as we pull into the dump. I climb out and grab the garbage as my mom talks to the attendant–her buddy–and he smiles, remembering her from the year before.  

Yes, every day is a Grand Opening.

My new mantra.

Sunset over the bay. It’s a little slice of heaven.

It’s a Fine Life.  

12 Replies to “Grand Openings”

  1. That is absolutely beautiful Kathy! I just love you and your mom. What wonder memories you two have created to treasure and store in your hearts forever! I love seeing the pictures of the cabin, it is such a peace-filled place!! I am so glad you all are able to get back up there (the whole shut down because of Covid). Love you all, Oswalt family!!! 💕💕💕💕

    1. Thanks, Brenda. Yes, the memories are rich, and we’ve all had so many wonderful days at that beautiful place. I’m so glad you and your family have been there.

  2. Sounds like a piece of heaven on earth! What a beautiful rhythm to go to the same cabin every year! Such solitude and memories! ❤️

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.