Growing up, my family would, many years, make the trek from Lancaster, SC to this magic place north of Greenville, SC, for the big July 4th celebration held in this community of summer home folks: Mountain Lake. Full of little mountainside summer homes built mid-century, it's private and nestled in the foothills of the Appalachians. My grandmother's little brother, George, and his wife Sue would host all of us, and I remember running around the screened porch and the men taking turns churning the ice cream and talking. Even then, I preferred the company of men to the women. They just always seemed to be doing more interesting things! And they definitely hung out outdoors more than the women. I enjoyed getting to see and meet new people, and explore the safe little summerworld here with my older brother and an occasionally smattering of cousins. There was, of course, a lake, floats, big rocks to climb on, big grassy green areas, and golf carts gliding around everywhere. It's not posh by any means, it was all built well before people cared about things like that as much as they do now. It's real, and it's authentic, and it feels like 20th century summer, when people cared the most about actually living life and having fun and being with each other, and not about selfies and screens. I can scarcely remember a time before computers, but this place seemed to have access to that time before that, or at least it was a place where that life existed temporarily, walled off by the mountains as the future welled up below us.
Visiting here with my own children was such a treat. It was quite different in that there were so many fewer people. We were the only people on the lake for awhile. And I understand it's just that we didn't attend on July 4th when I was used to seeing all the people, but it still felt a little oddly apocalyptic to be there and see it so isolated...and still so unchanged in 20 years.
We enjoyed the time in the lake, of course, but for me, the biggest treat was seeing family again I haven't seen in ages. My aunt Nancy, George, and Sue, who all seemed to enjoy our children for the day. I loved capturing all the details I remember ephemerally in a concrete way. It was affirming and entertaining and informative all at once.
This is what I saw.