The Fourth at the Iotts on The River

The river keeps flowing. 

The chairs surround the fire, the flames reaching towards the sky, warming our hands, our hearts, the pot of coffee, the trash can dinner, the dozens of marshmallows and hot dogs and venison steaks hunted by the family. The circle gets bigger as the day goes on, and the warmth of the Michigan summer is no match for the warmth in the hearts of us all.

The water keeps moving.

The tubes float downstream, labeled in paint for the places that mean the most to the family. The kayaks paddle by, looking like there’s a destination ahead but there’s never really a schedule when you’re here on the fourth. The kids stand on the dock, watching the rubber ducks fight the waves and the tree branches to win a race of their own. 

The river keeps flowing. 

The grassy area that was once a simple backyard has become a sanctuary for so many. A house next door turned into a well-loved pavilion, filled with live bluegrass and irish and country music and barbecue that feeds hundreds. The place keeps growing and the tents, the campers, the hammocks kept multiplying. The pile of dirt became a sandbox, the counter became a bar, backlit with an Acadian flag. The chalkboard is filled with words and dedications and memories to the two people we all love the most. 

The water keeps moving. 

The air is at peace but never peaceful. The sounds echo of children’s laughter, of hammocks swinging, of card games being won and dogs chasing each other around the legs of their people. It smells of a mixture of paint and dirt caked onto feet, of Michigan cherries and strawberry daiquiris and battered and fried onion rings. You close your eyes and can still see the camera capturing each moment, only later to be reminded of these moments after the river book has been bound. 

The river keeps flowing. 

A place that forever stands the test of time. Where there is no cell service, there is a sky full of endless daylight followed by stars. Where there are few distractions, there are a lot of loved ones. Where there is no longer a Ralph and a Bev, there will forever remain their light-hearted spirits. Seen in the handwritten note on the fridge and in the smiling faces of the little ones that add to this family, we are reminded that this place holds something special. That because of the endless love those two gave throughout their lives, they created a family bound not just by blood but by love – they created a home that is built into all of us. 

The water keeps moving. 

The River – a place that is more than a cabin in the woods. A place where, just like the water, the love keeps flowing as the family keeps on growing.

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