“We’re number three!  We’re number three!  We’re number three!” We chanted as we ran down to the water, our suntanned legs zipping through the beach grasses.  It was summer in Michigan, we were about nine, and we had just learned that National Geographic had recently published an article claiming that Torch Lake, OUR Torch Lake, was the third most beautiful lake in the world. In. The. World.  Over the years, we have held to this assertion.  We have license plate holders and stickers to prove it.  This moment and so many others like it are etched on my heart, and those of my family, cousins, and lake friends. 

The lake holds these collective memories still today, and it will continue to gather each tale, hold and keep it until someone digs it up from around the fire pit to be scrutinized and shared by the circle.  They are the nuggets of lore that have been contributed to over time by those who have come and gone over the many years.  Each contribution painted in the perspective of the contributor.  Each colored in the circumstance, familial filter, and lens of those who shared their musings around the fire pit. It is this collective memory that muddies the water between truth and myth.   

It is the clarity and purity of the waters of Torch Lake that keep us mostly honest in our recollections.  She alone holds the truth.  She has borne witness to generations of  love, loss, and laughter.  Her crystal clear, tricolored waters will always be number one to us.