"Why does auntie keep coming back to this lake, Mom?" asks my daughter. But even as she asks the question, she understands. It is the place that holds my family's collective memories. The lake where swimming lessons in the city crystallized into that moment when you realize you are able to float on an inner tube with the cousins and kick all by yourself all the way across that cove to that rock where you and the cousins jump into the water.
Each campsite and every curve of the road holds a memory. My sister swears that is the road where I lost control of the bicycle (no brakes) and I landed in that ditch and the bike flew and landed in that tree. And even though she was 2 and I was 10, and even though the ditch has been filled in and the tree removed, and even though she is on the wrong loop altogether, she tells everyone that this is the loop and that is the tree.
Daughter's friends now invited along are told the stories as we drive up to our annual trip to the lake. That is the ferny spring at the curve where brother/uncle had altitude sickness and threw up. That is the campground young mommy camped in when she was younger and the other cousins will remember the year of "The Big Pizza Fight" where she did not get pizza after a series of uncontrollable events and a sudden lack of cash.