My husband John went to Proctor Academy and that began his connection with New Hampshire. On the weekends he would pack us all in the car and drive to New Hampshire.

It was a beautiful day as we rode up Route 25. I got a quick look at the water to my left. Little did I know then what that quick look would mean in my life. The next thing I knew he pulled into a small drive on our right. It led to Mrs. Banfield’s real estate office. More like a tiny box. John went in and came out with Mrs. Banfield.

I heard her say “John for $6,000 you are not going to get much on the water but I have one place in mind.. it has possibilities.” My first ride up Coe Point Road was not pleasant as we bounced from one rut to the other. The one place Mrs.Banfield had in mind because it had “possibilities” was shocking. It was a shack. It literally was a shack – a fisherman’s shack- and it had not been used in a long time. It needed paint and the alder shrubs had taken over the beach – what there was of that.

The next thing I knew, we were the owners of this shack. That next weekend we drove back up. The shack had a living room, a bathroom the size of a closet with a spooky tin shower inhabited by spiders, a galley kitchen, and one small bedroom. And I mean small. We had 4 kids and usually an equal amount of friends, 2 dogs, and a huge iguana. All had to go with us.

On the first day of the first weekend, we were to stay at The Shack, Mark, our oldest, went out on the beach where the alders had been cut down and got his foot cut. It was now a Vietnam danger field with spikes everywhere. The kids spent most of the day pulling up the spikes and digging down with their hands to pull up the roots. If you did not get the roots, Mrs. Banfield told me, they would just grow back. While I was helping and watching them dig, I heard a scream. It was my oldest daughter Deborah who wanted to be called “Debbie”. She had fallen through the rotten deck. At first, I thought she had cut off her leg for it was missing —stuck down in the hole.

And so it began, the youngest Elizabeth who wanted to be called “Beth”, got sick and threw up. The toilet overflowed. David, the youngest boy, fell out of a tree and got a black eye. Our oldest son, Mark, was heard to say he would spend his summers at “Star Island” with his grandmother Nash — and he did.

The worst was yet to come. Sometime during the night, our youngest girl Elizabeth who wanted to be called Beth, covered in sweat and red in the face, told us the kids say it is too hot. John had gotten something called canal coal and loaded up the Franklin stove with it. The kids slept on the living room floor. The walls were weeping with sap and the stove looked very hot. Our cottage was close to exploding. John opened the door took, the bucket of water he had next to it, and tossed the water inside. A cloud of dirty soot filled the air and drove everyone into the small bedroom.

When all was sorted and the kids were back on the floor, John and I headed to the bedroom. I begged him to take us home. I even cried I was so upset (and I never cried). But he was determined all would be okay. I would see, he said. I said, “I hate this place” and cried myself to sleep.

The next day we had breakfast at a diner in Center Harbor. Later, as I sat feeling sorry for myself on a rock on the beach, the roar of a car with a bad muffler filled my ears. It stopped and a voice yelled “Hey is that you Mrs. Nash?” It was a friend of mine from a school I was attending. He was a great kid, but wild. Still, as usual, he made me laugh and roared off. Silence, golden silence, filled the air. Then from the church in Center Harbor came the beautiful sound of the bells calling the the faithful to church. I will love those bells forever.

I am not a religious person but all of a sudden I got this wonderful feeling of happiness. That feeling and my thoughts filled with the idea that all was going to be, as John said, Okay. That day began my love affair with Lake Kanasatka. From that day on, whenever I was beaten down by LIFE, Lake Kanasatka would fill me with hope and get me back on my feet.

Every summer John would come on Thursday as he was taking his vacation in 4-day weekends. Friday he would find and fix all the broken items waiting for him on the beach taking the place of the alder spikes. Saturday was water skiing day. He drove our 16-foot boat while so many kids over the years learned to waterski.

Sunday we went to the Village Kitchen where we knew all the waitresses and stuffed ourselves. John went home to Westwood and this introvert was left with 6, 9, or more kids. By this time John had built a sleeping porch that was screened in but had no glass windows. So we had dropdown blinds to keep the rain out. But to be sure the floor did not stay wet if the rain did get in. John slanted the floor to let the water drain out! People have mentioned to me that the living room seemed to slant to the right. I always look amused…

That is how Lake Kanasatka became my happy place. And it remains so to this day. Lake Kanasatka and I have a personal relationship. To me, she is a living being to whom I go when LIFE tries to beat me down. Lake Kanasatka and our personal relationship has lasted over 50 years. She has never failed to fill me with hope and inner peace.

This is why I am pledging the money that will bring her waters back to their once pristine or almost pristine state. She gave to me all those years as she gave to all the kids, my relatives, the renters, and so many friends. Now I was given the opportunity, the pleasure, to give a little back to her.