In early August, my family spent a week in a log cabin in northern Wisconsin. Two things were remarkable about this vacation — one that’s reflective about family transitions; the other that speaks to unexpected coincidences.
This was the first time my adult children and I spent time together that was not centered on a major occasion — graduation, wedding, birth, Baptism or sadly, a funeral. We looked forward to being together without the hoopla of a special event, and reconnecting with no agenda to follow or emotional ups and downs.
This gathering included my son, Andy, my daughter-in-law, Erin, my 1-year-old grandson, Connor, my daughter, Rachel, my longtime boyfriend Vic, and our family dogs Buddy, Travis and Patch.
It was a glorious week on Lac Vieux Desert, a beautiful 4,200-acre lake whose southern shore is in Wisconsin, and northern banks in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The lake, famous for giant muskies and a proliferation of bald eagles, was perfect for idly exploring with a pontoon boat powered by a 50 horsepower Mercury.
With Andy’s family living in Appleton, Wisconsin, and Rachel attending graduate school in Tallahassee, it is only once or twice a year that we’re all together under the same roof. So, in addition to getting away from the office and Florida’s miserable August heat, I looked forward to observing the evolution of my children’s adult relationships.
Those of you who have raised children know what I’m talking about — kids do not automatically leave behind their childhood conflicts and competition for their mother’s attention when they turn 18. Their childhood dynamics continue until the seeds of maturity take firm root in adult responsibilities.
In my family’s case, my kids are four years apart, which meant Andy grew up with a little sister who was always in the way, and Rachel grew up with a big brother who was forever picking on her.
Now that they’re 28 and 24, they’re finally settling into a sibling relationship of mutual respect, patience and support. Sure, they still pick on each other, and at times leverage to be Mom’s favorite, but overall I was proud to observe their relationship evolving into one of adult sibling love.
Another Land O’ Lakes
When I began my search for a log cabin, I looked in areas within three hours of my son’s home in Appleton. This led me to the Eagle River resort area, and ultimately the cabin we found 20 miles north on Lac Vieux Desert.
When I booked the cabin in May, I did not pay attention to the surrounding communities. But, as our week in August got closer and I began looking for things, I discovered that the closest town to our cabin was Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin.
That coincidence stopped me in my tracks. Land O’ Lakes is my home here in Pasco County. Of course I knew about the Land O’ Lakes butter made in Minnesota, but had no idea there was another unincorporated town in the U.S., also named Land O’ Lakes.
Except for an abundance of lakes in both communities, the name is about the only thing the two Land O’ Lakes have in common.
According to Wikipedia, the Wisconsin town has just 861 residents, compared to 31,145 here. The town’s geographic size in Wisconsin is huge, at 95 square miles. Here in Pasco, Land O’ Lakes encompasses just 18 square miles. Of course, the weather is dramatically different, and we’re much younger, more affluent and better educated here in the Land O’ Lakes where I live.
While I marveled at the coincidence, when I told people I met in Land O’ Lakes, Wisconsin, that I lived in Land O’ Lakes, Florida, they smiled politely, but were not overly impressed or even surprised. So I gathered that over the years, a lot of us local Lakers have made the trek to our sister city in the north woods.
And, that reminds me of another difference between our two towns. Here, we call ourselves Lakers, which is where this newspaper took its name when it was founded in 1981. In Wisconsin, Land O’ Lakes residents call themselves Landos.
But, we both use the acronym LOL when writing about our town, which for residents of both communities, will never mean “lots of laughs,” despite what everyone else in the world of text believes.
Published September 7, 2016