My grandparents have done 47 consecutive summers in a small northern Minnesota lake town called Orr. My dad and his brother spent all their youthful summers in this town of 249 trucker's hats and morning coffees. When they grew up, the brothers brought their families to Orr to fish, play hearts, eat fish, shoot, hike and fish.
I had not been here since May 2003 when I helped build a dock for my grandparents' new house across the lake. The dock is still functional; Grandpa has not fallen in.
This trip had as much fishing as the others, but this time we played table tennis too. I am currently the family champion awaiting the arrival of challenger Uncle Dennis in 30 minutes. My grandpa mistakenly calls me "Dennis" without hesitation and without correction. To my slight surprise, so did my dad. I tried to correct them at first but gave up. At least my Minnesota name is from a guy I like. Uncle Dennis is the relative I relate to the most besides my obvious peer cousin, Casey. My family delivered Barbies from Santa on my mom's side for years, but for Dennis and Casey we went to Bass Pro.
I started to feed bread bits to ducks and egrets around the dock, a job my grandma used to occupy. A giant pelican watched from a safe distance, so my grandpa threw a dead 30-inch northern pike toward it. Everyone eats well in Minnesota.
Amid all this fun I forgot to shower and shave for two days. I grew a northern scruff that I enjoyed hacking minutes ago into my familiar Southern self.