1 of 2
The Ozark HillsThe hills surrounding the family cabin
2 of 2
Gravel Road in CentervilleThe dirt road that winds to reach the cabin
A Summer at The Cabin
by Emily Adams
Missouri born and bred, I’m accustomed to the fluctuations in weather patterns—to keeping my flip-flops at the ready in March and reminding myself that the precious few inches of snow-covered ground will not last more than a day.
However, that doesn’t mean that at every sporadic breeze of 70-degree bliss, my heart doesn’t yearn for a taste of summer.
Whenever—and it occurs all too often—that feeling is awoken in me in the twilight of the winter months, my mind tends to wander down a familiar gravel road.
At the foothills of the Ozarks, nestled in a town that few people have traveled, is my family’s cabin. Centerville is home to what has been my favorite place in the world since childhood. A safe-haven from the stresses of life and the strains growing up, the cabin is perched near the bank of Black River, which is the site of Johnson’s Shut-Ins and a phenomenal float trip journey.
The distinct personality of the family cabin stems from the undying attachment each generation holds to it. My grandparents tell tales of Reynolds County and scaling the Big Red Hill to the schoolhouse each morning. My parents reminisce about summer vacations spent listening to Johnny Cash on the radio and fishing along the riverbank.
My memories are overwhelmed with weekends and holidays at the cabin. I explored the hills, untarnished by billboards and car horns, with my cousins. We spent the summer finding the best swimming holes and eating lunch at the classic 21 Diner in town.
My grandma, who I’m convinced knows everything, took me on walks down the road and pointed out the Missouri wildflowers by name and the quartz hidden in the muddy cliffs. My aunts and uncles sat around the living room, pouring over stories about growing up in Centerville, and the kids gathered around to soak up the history.
As we fell asleep to the sound of the crickets and the whippoorwills, I would breathe in the sweet smell of summer, the taste of the s’mores from the nightly bonfire still lingering on my tongue. Just across the road, my cousins’ big, antique barn always created a gorgeous skyline for the setting sun.
And each time we would head north to go home, I would stick my feet out the window and feel the wind slide through my toes on the bumpy roads that have stood the test of time, from my grandparents’ trek to church and school, to our truck leaving dust clouds in its trail.
I’ve experienced the hustle and bustle of St. Louis, the university pride of Columbia, and the peacefulness of Midwestern suburbs.
But to me, Missouri will always mean a summer at the cabin, and dreaming all winter of going back to Black River.