Today I’m updating what is becoming an annual post. It’s time for the gathering of cherished friends, a group that I believe may be fairly unique. We have a name and each year we migrate to the North Woods of Wisconsin from as far away as Florida. We’re old friends, some among us go back literally 58 years, the rest anywhere from roughly 30 to 50 years. We graduated from high school together 40 years ago last week. This is the year we are 58 and our annual gathering begins in just two days. Our host is Lana, the youngest of the group; for eight years we’ve invaded the North Woods to stay at Lana’s fabulous property north of Eagle River on a chain of 22 lakes. Our name, The Gazebo Girls, comes from the fact that we spend a fair amount of time in the awesome gazebo on the property and have a group photo taken there each year by a neighbor as seen below.
This is our fifth year with a theme. Themes began with the year of Gazebo Gangstas, due to the fact that the Dillinger movie starring Johnny Depp had recently been filmed nearby. We dressed in 1920‘s costumes and had dinner at a restaurant famous for being the site of an actual Dillinger shootout. That was followed by the year of the Gazebo Pirates, in which we hired a pirate ship that cruises around the chain of lakes and is great for special occasions. Picture eleven women dressed as pirates on a big ship flying the skull and crossbones, with blaring pirate music as we cruised the chain of lakes for three hours. That was followed by Gazebo Cowgirls – more costumes and a trail ride. Last year we staged a Gazebo Wedding and that is enough said. There will be the traditional Saturday on the pontoon boat with sun and food and lots of laughs. Saturday night is our big dinner, prepared by our very own chef extraordinaire, Mary B; she always amazes us. Coffee with, you know, that fabulous whipped creme in a can, is another tradition, as is Patti’s creation of a signature drink to complement our theme. We’ll sing old favorites, loudly perhaps, laugh a lot, share a year’s worth of photos and bring each other up-to-date. In just two days, we’ll gather for West High Story, the theme for this year, to commemorate the 40th anniversary of our graduation from Green Bay West High School.
Two years ago at the beginning of our weekend, two of our group members lost their moms. A third old friend’s 29 year-old daughter passed away. When the rest of us left the North Woods, we headed home to attend funerals. We’ve shared family rites of passage, marriages and grandbabies; supported one another through death, divorce, cancer and remission thereof and the safe return of a son serving our country. We know each other well and while this is about shared history for sure, it’s also about making new memories together. I’m getting excited to get there; we’ll have a blast – celebrating life and friendship. As the childhood song says, “Make new friends, but keep the old, one is silver and the other gold.”
This group of old friends is as precious to me as gold and I’m looking forward to another great gathering!