Friday, August 29, 2008

The Fire Dies

Surfing the news tonight, I came across this ever increasing trend in today's economy.

I just was shocked to see how close to home this swing of the axe would be.

Illini State Park in Marseilles was just over the river from where I lived. My dad would take my sister and I fishing there. Well, more like teaching me how to bait a hook and cast a fishing line, since I don't remember much actually catching fish. But, that never really seemed to be the point of fishing with my dad. It was zen like, watching the river flow and swirl in different directions, waiting for my bobber to disappear beneath the water's surface. To actually snag a fish would have broken the trance.

When I was a Girl Scout, scout troops from around the district would spend a week of day camping, where the different troops would set up little camping areas across the park. We would spend days hiking, learning to cook by campfire, and earning our badges. The older girls would be lucky enough to actually camp overnight throughout the week. That would be my first foray into tent camping, which I quickly learned, I did not like. The week would end with a variety show of sorts for the public that the scouts practiced during the week. Then the night would come to a close with a large bonfire and promises to return next Summer.

As I grew older, it became a place to try out new freedoms behind the wheel of a car. Some tried out more freedoms than I did, though, those freedoms involving the back seat. I was strictly a driving with Meat Loaf blaring from my 8-track kind of girl.

Then, just recently, I "rediscovered" Illini Park when we bought our little camper. It became my escape where Ottawa felt like a hundred miles away, not just shy of ten. There was a little ice cream stand that became the nightly meeting place of many retired folks. If you wanted to know what was going on, you didn't need to read the paper, just head down to the park and have ice cream.

And there was always that river flowing past me, zen-like.

The past two years I was able to enjoy these get-aways, and the nights would always end with a campfire.

Now, for Illini, all campfires will quickly smolder away to memory.

I would be remiss if I didn't state this...I just lost a place to relax...hundreds of people lost their jobs.

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