After a long day of travel from my home in the Rocky Mountains of Durango, Colorado, and a reroute that flew me through the Sonoran Desert and Lone Star state, I finally walk out of the Jackson International Airport and into the sticky air of a Mississippi night. My brother and fiance pick me up for the two hour drive northeast to Macon, where we’ll spend the next few days celebrating the marriage of my little sister, Hannah, and her groom-to-be, Mister Josh Chism.
A couple hours later, rocks kick up under the borrowed Toyota as we turn onto the familiar red dirt road leading to Lake Forest Ranch – a slice of land that has served as a camp for over 60 years and the courting grounds of my brother and his wife, my parents, and even my grandparents. The cabins, dining and rec halls, boathouse, tennis courts, and horse barn that make up the facilities have been torn down and rebuilt a few times since I was introduced to it 28 years ago, but everything still sits beside the same brown, 3.5 acre lake surrounded by 60,000 acres of dense forest owned by our family. This place is the ever-constant compass foot of my rambling, zipcode-changing life, and it feels great to be here.
Two firetowers loom over the flatlands, and as we pass by one, my brother slows the car and pulls to a stop. He smiles his mischievous, little brother smile and suggests we climb to the top. So under a hazy full moon, we do just that and sit on the splintered steps of the rickety structure, letting the cool wind blow through thin layers of clothing. Somewhere in the shadows of those tall, Southern pines lie Lake Forest Ranch and a bed that’s calling my name.
We climb down and drive on. Hannah and I stay up too late (as sisters tend to do) giggling about her wedding night and recalling the long road that’s led to where we sleep tonight.
Finally, we drift off to dreams of Grandmommy’s pancakes that might be on the breakfast table in a few hours…