Linda Pils looks forward to a week up north with her grandkids every year. When the girls found out it was Pils’ wedding anniversary… they planned a special surprise.
I knew something was afoot when I glimpsed the three girls zooming past the open aisle at the Save-More Grocery in Minocqua. We’d stopped for more provisions on our way up north for a week of Camp Pils. Camp Pils is a love-fest, the one week of the year when we have the girls we love best, our granddaughters, Carson and Scarlett, in the place we love best, our cozy, little cabin on the shore of High Lake just outside of Boulder Junction. This year we had also invited Ally, our nephew’s daughter, to join us.
It had been a busy time of family reunions and dinners the previous week, so I had forgotten that it was our 46th wedding anniversary. “How could you forget your wedding day?” the girls, huddled in the back seat chanted.
We stopped for lunch, then continued on to purchase the last of the groceries. As a treat, each girl got to select one special item. Ice cream cones, Cocoa Puffs and candy bars were discussed as Carson, at 14 and 4 years older than the other girls, took the ten-dollar bill from my hand.
While I waited in lane 3 with my full cart, Carson came rushing over to ask for more money.
I thought that $10.00 was plenty.
“Please, Nana,” Carson begged. “Just $5.00 more, I’ll pay you back.”
I handed her the five extra dollars. We were warned as the girls loaded their groceries into the car, “Don’t turn around!”
At the cabin, the girls whisked their groceries into the small bedroom that they shared. We were barred from entering and encouraged to go out in the fishing boat for a “romantic ride.”
The girls were waiting for us on the dock as we pulled up a half hour later. As we secured the lines to the side of the pier, they started singing, “L is for the way you look at me, O is for the only one I see, V is very, very extraordinary, E is even more than anyone that you adore,” hummmmming “Love is made for me and you.” They sang another refrain as they took our arms and escorted us to the front of the cabin. “Tonight is your romantic night! Happy Anniversary!” they shouted. asTHe porch table was alight with 46 candles, most of them votives, swimming in liquid wax, and a Happy Anniversary balloon.
I thought, “Oh, my God, the whole place could have gone up in flames!” but said, “This looks amazing, it’s beautiful, what a surprise!” And it was beautiful. And so were they, with their faces beaming, ready to serve us dinner.
Ally took our drink orders, Scarlett was our server and Carson the chef. The salad came first, followed by the Chicken manicotti. We were also given a running commentary on the decision making process. At the salad course, “We didn’t think the dinner was big enough, so we added the salad.” At the main course, “Carson thought we should have pizza,” but I said, “Pizza’s not romantic. Macaroni and cheese, now that’s romantic!” As the meal continued, I could tell that Scarlett was getting hungryso when Scarlett asked if the chicken patty with tomato sauce and 11 noodles was good, I suggested that she try some. “It’s really good, isn’t it?“ I whispered.
“Delicious,” she said. And it was delicious, eating on the porch with the call of a loon echoing across the lake, Sinatra ballads playing, surrounded by these three wonderful, thoughtful, funny, loving girls.
The culmination of this romantic evening was cake, covered with flowers and the hand-written inscription, “Happy 46th Anniversary, Nana & Papa”. It tasted better than our wedding cake.