The cross-over from New Hampshire to Maine occurred early in my 13th year. At first I lay too entrenched in the teen sorrow of leaving friends to notice, silently enduring a rendezvous with my grandparents before launching out on our annual family vacation.

My grandparents’ delightfully eccentric natures regularly drew skepticism from my business-minded father. It showed up this year as we entered Maine, traversing dangerously narrow, winding roads through the woods. It escalated as we bounced onto a narrow, winding dirt road.

“Are you sure there’s a lake back here?” my father spit out, teeth crashing as we rattled on, eating the dust of my grandparents’ car.

My mother threw up her hands. “They rented the cabin from friends,” she said, resignation dripping from her words.

My older sister and I pushed our faces out our respective windows in an unspoken race to find the lake. My 6-year-old sister sat in the middle, oblivious.

“I see it,” I shouted a moment later. My father focused on a sharp turn while my sister joined me at my window. A brief wrestling match and words from the front ensued until my father’s attention went to a thrillingly steep hill while the lake again dipped out of sight.

We crested the hill and followed the dust trail to a dirt circle surrounded by pine trees. I jumped out of the car and stared at a cottage roof sitting almost level with the car. Strange! Sadness forgotten, I ran down a set of wooden stairs, briefly pausing at the first landing.

“The lake!” I shouted back to the doubters, still standing at the top of the stairs.

I completed my descent, taking in the clear waters of Balch Pond. A pier, growing out of a large crop of rocks, stretched ahead and an aluminum boat merrily rocked against it. Though I had been around much of the Maine coast in my young life, this began my love affair with Maine’s Lake District.

The same love must have hit my father, because by the end of the week, this man – who, in my eyes, had never done anything out of the ordinary – announced that we and my grandparents had a deed to a piece of shoreline.

That fall I learned to set footings and through the spring and summer I pumped well water and sanded wood as my family built out the shell of our cottage. Southern Maine, where my grandparents, parents, and younger sister set down roots, became my anchor as adult life pulled me around, finally landing me in my husband’s home state of Texas.

My current challenge? Making sure my grandchildren recognize the eerie call of a loon, see the beauty of a clear lake, the wonder of a starfish on a beach rock, and the mischievousness of harbor seals. Most importantly, I hope to share the tenacity born of a life of changing seasons and changing times. Now, if only I owned an airline!