We just returned from our annual getaway to Silver Lake, Michigan, a tradition set up by the “Loonies,” Wally IV’s mom’s side of our family. I don’t know the roots of the name Loony, but anyone who spends time with them can take a guess—after all, what family spends an entire week together every year for generations and does not call it a family reunion?

Once a year, the first week of August, Wally’s Donno (his grandma) and all her many sisters and their brother travel up to Silver Lake to sit together on lawn chairs, talk like they haven’t seen each other in ages (although most of them get together every Sunday and several times a year in various vacation getaways), and to watch what happens when Loonies are Loonies. Currently four generations sit, play backyard games, play in the sand, take boat rides, and talk and laugh the day away.

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No Silver Lake is perfect. Far north in Michigan, the weather often rears its ugly head, a bitter cool breeze can blow off the lake, or the sun can beat down on hot musty cottages with no air conditioning, or it can rain and rain and rain. Un-napped kids throw tantrums, a kid or an auntie heads to the hospital for an ailment, and some Loonies here and there can’t make the trip for various reasons. But the show goes on. And it must, because we would not be Loonies if we did not roll with the punches.

There is nothing to do around Silver Lake. There is no cell service. I read and read and read, and the aunties and grandmas chat and chat, and the kids play and play and play. We take day trips to “nearby” towns that are 45 minutes away—or, we don’t. The sand and water is our toy box—no batteries required, nothing ever to repair. It is simple enough to remind us that, as a favorite poet says, “When I see such things, I am no longer certain that what’s important is more important than what’s not.”

Beautiful things happen here, too. Loonies are engaged, wed, and even born at Silver Lake. Ice cream is eaten. Sand dunes are climbed and run down. Children are marched through cemeteries to scare the bejeezus out of them after dark (a true thing, which I have not witnessed, which happened when my husband’s generation were little—perhaps an explanation for the “Loony” name).

And the magical thing is, because it is not perfect, and it is sometimes beautiful, and it is a tradition that has been happening for ages, even if Loonies who have been there for years are not present, they are there. They are there in the heart of the thing.

Screen-Shot-2013-08-08-at-3.51.57-PM-300x238No Loonie goes to Silver Lake looking for perfection. But perfect moments happen. This year, one Silver Lake night, the Rosier clan (Bops, Wally’s Grandpa, and Donno’s brood) made a last minute decision to build a fire and cook hot dogs and s’mores. We gathered wood, the fixings, chairs and stumps and guitars and voices and we pulled together our own little something. We had music, and kids around a picnic table, and kids gulping down their first s’mores, and kids inventing their own games of ring around the rosie, and kids telling ghost stories about watermelons eating showers. We laughed. We sang. And we were Loony Rosiers together.

These are the moments we go looking for at Silver Lake. This is the joy that has been passed down to us, that we are passing to our children. These small moments—the crunch of a s’more, the hum of the guitar, the shared laughter—they carve our place in the Silver Lake tradition. It’s so tangible that after so many years, the lake is full of not water, but these perfect moments. Years and years from now, if you visit Silver Lake the first week of August, you will be able to feel that something good has happened here. Joy was created, cherished, preserved. What a lucky thing, to have been a part of Silver Lake. What a lucky thing to be a Loony.

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