The clouds were drifting, with billowy images kinda like massive birds with porpoises swimming around them…. and on each side of the whiteness stood darkened seahorses ready to storm. Well at least that’s what the sky looked like to me as we traveled through the waters of Lake Itasca on the Chester Charles tour boat. Our destination, the headwaters of the Mississippi River. The mouth of this river begins as a trickle and swells in size as the waters of the Missouri, Ohio and later, the Tennessee River among others, pour themselves into her waves.

This little expedition was all part of our potluck reunion birthed in Bismarck, North Dakota in 1974. Initially, we were five couples, all too poor to dine out, so we got together each month to eat, play games and visit in each other’s homes. To this day, we send a round robin letter that continues throughout the year, and get together every three years or so.

This year the location had special meaning. We stayed at a spacious cabin at Lake Kabekona (Ojibwa for “End of the trail”) near LaPorte, Minnesota…vacation home of the Don and Sylvia Schmid family, and it has a tremendous history.

A group of students from Luther Seminary were determined to find a place where they could reunite each summer. After three years of research they found a place, and to make a long story short, purchased land around Kabekona Lake in 1932. It was not until 1947 that they begin building on the land. One of those seminary students was Casper B. Nervig, Sylvia’s father. And to this day, many of those families have remained there along the lakeshore and the dressing of Maples, Norway and White Pines.

From the cabin we could view the beautiful setting of trees around the lake. Outside, the rain poured down, but the wood-burning fireplace was ablaze with the warmth of conversation and heartfelt love for each other. We spent hours laughing, reminiscing, grateful for the friendships and stories of where life had taken us. So like those Luther seminarians, we were reunited with a tie that binds. Treasured, tethered times they were.

I love these lines from Edgar Guest’s poem, “Old Friends”

“The tenderness of folks who know just what your sorrow means,

These are the things on which, somehow, your spirit always leans.

When grief is poundin’ at your breast — the new friends disappear An’ to the old ones tried an’ true, you turn for aid an’ cheer.”

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