I always forget how beautiful it is, Edinboro, Pa., how the lake is just the right size, how the little narrow Lakeside Drive is but a ribbon wrapping it all up, how good it smells, and how wonderfully life slows down there.

My Grandmother is quite the trendsetter in Edinboro. Always has been. Many years ago, she and her husband Bernard came to this little place that at the time was, I believe, pretty much just a hole with water in it surrounded by some land. They bought a lot and just camped on it for a few years before they started building the Cottage. The little place, built with strictly non-union labor (read: they pretty much built the place themselves), was where I would spend a large part of every summer as a kid. There are few places better to sleep when you’re that age then in the top bunk of a small room that is lined exclusively in knotty pine. I can still smell that house just by thinking about it.

In the mid ’80s, Grandma and Grandpa decided it just wasn’t enough room for them anymore. They swapped a lot they owned across the lake for the one adjacent to the Cottage and built their dream Edinboro home, palacial for Edinboro standards at the time. Here, the first Edinboro settlers became among the first to build a full-fledged residential dwelling. Now, of course, everyone’s doin’ it.

My Grandpa died in ’86. He rests across the lake from the house at Edinboro Cemetery. His plot was among our stops on this visit, a final footnote to an eye-opening weekend. It’s easy in one’s 20s, I think, to forget, ignore, or take for granted one’s roots. How valuable it is that my elders found this little spot, fell in love with it, and dug in. How extraordinary it is that I was offered such an ideal and happy place to play and learn my way to adulthood. How enormous it is that everywhere I go and everything I do, I carry millions of minutes of life experience with me earned at this little lake.

It is mind-boggling, and I thank my Grandparents profusely for giving it to me.