The wilderness surrounds me.
An unspoiled sky above, the sounds of nature, and the restful rhythm of a breathing lake bring forth a flood of memories.
Big Clear Lake has been a fixture in my life since the day I was born. The Davis Cottage began construction in 1984 and was completed shortly before my arrival in April of ’85. It sat atop a hill overlooking the lake’s eastern bay, standing tall with the morning sun and welcoming me into the world.
It was a second home to me. The backwoods were the stomping ground of my youth, and the lake was always calling my name. It instilled in me a deep respect for the outdoors, created a passion for being on the water, and shaped me into the man I am today.
I tell people I was born in the city, but I grew up at my cottage.
Reminiscing of camping on the island at the mouth of East Bay brings a smile to my face – we labeled it Porcupine Island for a reason long forgotten, but its real name is Mill’s Island.
Like a handful of wildlings, my cousins and I became our own rulers; cooking hotdogs and smores over the fire, swimming off the rocks, and sleeping beneath the stars. We experienced freedom and independence in a way unlike any other.
Being secluded on an island with your closest companions and fending for yourself puts a unique perspective on life. Even as kids, we recognized the connections we were making, with each other and the nature around us, and our understanding of what’s truly meaningful started to take shape.
We learned lessons that remain with us to this day.
Next to Porcupine Island are the bluffs, a series of rocks ascending in height that overlook the water below. My friends and I would launch off them with reckless abandon, one-upping each other with flips and cannonballs from the lower levels and free-falling into the lake from the upper stages.
The thrill of going to the bluffs struck a chord with my inner adrenaline junkie. It’s something I find myself thinking about on occasion, daydreaming of a time when my only care was to impress my friends by being the first to jump from the highest rock.
In a way, it helped build self-confidence during those ‘awkward teenage-years’ and ignited an adventurous spirit within me.
My time on Big Clear Lake also fueled my passion for fishing. One of my earliest memories is my mother teaching me to cast with a secondhand rod and reel. The knob on the handle was broken, so she fashioned a new one out of an old G.I. Joe figurine – I caught my biggest walleye on that rod when I was five-years old.
My best friend and I spent countless hours in my dad’s boat hunting for lunkers, bonding over the ones that got away, and sharing in the delight of feeling that tug-tug on your line. To this day, we can’t help but recount those fishing stories whenever we reunite.
I hold those memories close to my heart and remember them with every cast I’ve taken since.
It has been almost two years since The Davis Cottage sold, which I should note had been renovated into a four-season home by then. Selling was a necessary evil; my father reached a point in his life where maintaining the property had become too much, especially in the winter.
The time had come for him to move and begin anew.
Fortunately, it was a young couple with similar values who purchased my childhood haven. It lessened the blow of selling knowing that they are following in the footsteps of my family, creating memories of their own and allowing themselves to be carried away by the current of the lake.
Clearly, Big Clear Lake has had a large impact on my life, and I am lucky to have spent 32 years influenced by its surroundings. I urge all those fortunate enough to stay in the area to explore, experience, and enjoy all it has to offer.
Dip your toes into a lake full of memories!