The End Of Youth

The small, municipal beach was deserted on the day I was there. Fall was just around the corner, summer and my youth were over. As I stood there, I remembered many long days with bright sunshine, some without, for this was the gathering and meeting place during my teenage years It was a somber mood I was in and I felt as deserted as the beach.

Somehow I had been the one recruited to walk by sister’s gray and white poodle dog. Being a small dog and kind of lazy, Tina was content to sniff the dying grass around the worn picnic table as I sat down. Of course, I sat on the top and put my feet on the seat. I sat facing the lake, which was slightly moving, and saw the partly cloudy sky mirrored in the water. I looked out and saw the beginnings of many boat trips away from the starting point of the municipal dock. “Hey, let’s go over to Haunted Island” or " Let’s drive by Mark’s house and see if he’s down by the lake", were things we said not that long ago. The houses that lined the lake also had a deserted look since most of the summer residents had gone back to the Cities.

Balsam Lake is a very beautiful lake no matter what season it is. It is a big lake with several resorts, marinas, and night spots. Most of the shoreline is lined with houses of all shapes and sizes. The town triples in size during the summer and, like my family, some people love it so much that they make it their permanent home. Being in the heart of Western Wisconsin lake country, one visit and you’ll see why the area is called " God’s Country".

I had graduated from high school in May and I was planning on attending the University of Wisconsin at River Falls. The fall semester was starting soon and I was excited and also scared. It would be the first time that I would only be home on weekends and I already missed the day-to-day togetherness and happenings. I was going to be an elementary school teacher. Is that really what I’d told them to write by my graduation picture in the local newspaper’s “Graduate Special”? Wait a minute, this is all happening too fast! I want to go back to the days when all I had to do was ride with my friends in our boats around the lake day after day.

Just then Tina barked. She had wound her leash around the leg of the picnic table. As I got up to free her, I heard a noise behind me and looked up the slope towards the road. The cars parked around the small Lutheran Church across from the beach had started to come alive with their owners getting in and slamming their doors. There had been a wedding. As Tina and I walked up the hill towards home, I saw the bride and groom standing outside the church. I recognized the bride as a classmate from school. Her future was to be a wife and mother. I was going to college. Mark would end up being the county attorney. Todd would be head of the county highway department. Jo would be a nurse and Cathy would deliver her children with the help of a midwife.

This really was the end of our youth. I had tried to pretend it wasn’t coming, but it was only a matter of time. My stepmother had said that once a person leaves home they can never come back. Now I understood what she was trying to tell me. The carefree, summer years were over, I was approaching fall and my adulthood.

I would make it, I come from tough stock. I went home to prepare my mind and my belongings for the move to River Falls. The journey would be long and tough, but now I was ready.

By Nancy Hauser

The End Of Youth


Moorhead, United States

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