The dappled sunlight penetrated her eyelids and various sounds from song birds reached her ears. Darlene gave a lazy stretch and smelled the morning air. Wood smoke and lake water, would she ever grow tired of those smells? This is her favorite time of day, before the family stirred from the tent.
Facing her most daunting task of the day, crawling off an air mattress without waking Darrell, she began the habitual routine of rising from her awkward position. She felt two warm familiar hands on her backside and received a rather rude but grateful push from behind. She could not stop the giggle from escaping her lips.
Darlene loved these early mornings with Darrell. She reveled in the normal routine of starting the camp fire, putting the coffee pot over the flames, and waiting for it to percolate. Her husband would join her and they would openly discuss the direction their lives where headed. No matter how busy their family became, she depended on these weekend trips to the lake. Even if they could ever afford a nicer vacation she is determined to hold on to this tradition. By the lake individual lives are molded into a strong family unit.
Beginnings of an exuberant day exploded out of the tent when the ten year old twins woke up and joined their parents for breakfast.
Afterwards the family went on their customary morning boat ride. At this time of day, before many boaters arrived, the lake is a beautiful sheet of glass… still and quiet.
The afternoon hours were spent in the cove swimming, reading, and watching the storm move down the river. To protect the boat they decided to pull it from the water before the squall arrived. Fixing up the boat had been a family project which made them feel very protective of it.
Driving around the point Darlene noticed the boat not responding promptly to her commands. Observing the abnormal amount of water inside the boat she slammed the throttle to full speed. "Keep the speed up," she told herself "or this water craft will meet the bottom of the lake."
Deanna, realizing there was a problem, found a Dixie cup and began to bail. Feeling her mother's eyes watching, she shrugged, "Better than nothing."
Ignoring the no wake buoys Darlene kept the boat flying among the waves which grew more menacing as they went. The boat ramp is close but is the distance too far for the struggling vessel?
Darrell heard the boat before he saw it and knew instantly by the sounds his girls were in trouble. Around the point came his most prized possession, Darlene, driving the boat like a pro. She lined the boat up and cut the engine at the right time for it to coast up on the trailer. The old truck struggled, pulling the water filled boat from the lake. The inner hull plug had worked itself lose and the entire underside of the boat was filled with water.
Back at camp they dashed from the truck into the tent before the storm broke over head. The Skip-Bo cards were worn and tattered but they still provided needed distraction from the raging storm outside the canvas walls.
Lighting struck near by forcing the family to seek shelter in the truck. Times like this showed Darlene how brave her children were.
A loud powerful force smacked the truck, rattling the battered vehicle from stem to stern. Deanna let out a small scream and Dean wrapped a protective arm around his sister. Darrell flashed a light out the window, sitting by the pick-up a soaking wet, muddy, frightened Great Dane looked at him with pleading eyes. He looked over at Darlene who gave a slight nod of approval. No beast should be out in a tempest of this magnitude.
Darrell cracked the door open and without hesitation the dog joined them. "I can count every rib on her body. Who would abandon such an incredible dog?"
Later that night Darlene lay in the tent with her family. Turning her head she watched the last red coals die on the camp fire, in the air she smelled wet dog and damp earth with a touch of wood smoke. She heard the twins talk in their sleep between themselves; heard the sigh of Duchess, the Great Dane, as she settled in by their feet, and the beginnings of a snore from Darrell. The ending of another day full of blessings, she thought.
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