by cheri block
I am one of the lucky ones who spent many a childhood summer and winter at stunning Lake Tahoe. Because my adventures there began when I was just ten years old, most of what I remember about those days is pre-puberty, puberty, and more puberty. Somehow, miraculously, I had emerged in an amazing metamorphosis from a resolute and bossy tomboy into a well, well–a small block of feminine dynamite. (Literary readers can wrestle around with that metaphor.)
Bogard, my childhood friend of the opposite sex, figures prominently in all Tahoe lore because his cabin was right down the street from ours. Never mind that they co-owned it with a Rottweilerish physician who forbade television and childhood chatter upstairs. We knew how to have fun downstairs.
Bogard has red hair, the color of a warm California sunset in September. He’s Norwegian with those high Scandinavian cheekbones and gorgeous eyes as blue as Lake Tahoe itself. He remains ready for a good joke, which I often provided as a child from my uncensored repertoire of crass and tactless comments and stories, a trait inherited from my fun-loving father who encouraged me, I suppose.
On my walk to the beach this afternoon, I miss Bogard’s presence here at the lake–his laugh, his enthusiasm, and his handsome face. Bogard, you will remember that shortcut through the trees at the end of Sacramento Avenue, won’t you? The one navigated by that marvelous scout–my German Shepherd Dickens–who weighed more than I? This afternoon, with a sentimental longing for the simple times we spent together, I walk alone without a dog . “Mom, the bears live in that wood now, ” warns my daughter. ” You ought to take a different route.”
Through the wood, left on Lagoon and right on McKinney, I walk. It is late August; the crowds have left; the hot pavement reflects a little band of teens and children carrying their beach towels and zinc oxide, Coppertone and lipstick.
Down McKinney where it joins with Highway 89 and onto the path I move, this time dressed like a presentable and mature woman. That’s funny. No guys whizzing by in their cars are honking their horns or whistling.
Sara and her family wait at the baby beach. She’ll be pleased to learn that I have arrived without a bear behind. I know, Bogard. Still a jokester am I. The days of Mountain Dew and Dr. Pepper are over. Shall we get a Chamber’s Punch? You might be surprised to learn that in this poor economy, the price has dropped from $8.00 to $7.00. A Chamber’s Punch with my feet in the sand, staring at the cerulean blue and puzzling over how I became as old as I am in so short a time.
We parade barefoot up and down the boardwalk, showing off our bodies to all who will look. The SixBlox arrives at the dock. Dad gestures. We’re cool. “Come on Bogard!” I scream so that the Chris Cramers and the J.R. Vavras from Piedmont and Carmel will hear and see the H.A. Blocks from Fremont.
Today, a preppy young man with his Kindle guards the gate. No Chamber’s Punch at the Baby Beach.
Sara has other ideas because she knows her mother has just walked over a mile and is grateful I am not parading up and down the boardwalk in my bathing suit.
Did Dad arrive at the dock? I must have missed him while in my reverie. Soon those mountains will be full of snow and Bogard, we will smile through chattering teeth at the top of the chair lift. Snow will be stuck to your eyebrows and black ski hat. I will look through my yellow goggles while the snow flies and you will be gone in flash down to the lodge where hot chocolate waits for us all.