Saturday, September 8, 2007

Ah, yes...(My Sacred Life, day 15)

About 10 pm last night, we reached the front gate of the small summer getaway place for a couple of hundred families, some of whom date their visits (or those of long-passed family members) to 100 or more years ago.

It's now an hour after sunrise as I sit at a little wicker table in this most precious of sacred places, Sleepy Hollow.

This cottage has been in Julia's family now for several generations. It was where her mom stayed in the summers leading up to when she met Julia's father, right here in this little resort, in the late 1930's. Her dad is about half a mile down the beach in his cottage even as I type, in his very-unpretentiously named Rogers Cottage (their family name).

As you can imagine, a place which has been here for about 110 years and which has a fairly small and constant set of people who visit, there are traditions galore. The area was originally a Methodist retreat. Even to this day, there are vestiges of that religious background in the rules, regulations, and unspoken mores. So, think history, and acceptance that some freedoms are abandoned in favor of the magic of this place. It's not Stepford, at all. It's not Venice Beach, either.

Sleepy Hollow has such a rich past that it almost whispers to you from the very walls of the cottage. You can imagine "the aunts" sitting around the dinner table, discussing their day. They were, at the time Julia's mom was a kid, the owners of the cottage: four spinster aunts, none of whom ever married, who helped raise Becky after her own mother passed away when she was still a child. Julia did know them when she was quite young, and they all lived past their 90th year.

I get chills up my spine when I think of the accumulated human experience I am now part of in a very small way. And, when I grow weary of thinking, I can lean back in this rocker and fall under the spell of the lake, ever-changing as the light hits it from varying angles during the day, always present in the sound of the waves, always ready to wash away anything distracting one from just enjoying it. Truly, I am in joy while doing nothing more than looking out at the lake from Sleepy Hollow.

Sleepy Hollow is such a quirky cottage. It is, as are most cottages here, built for numbers. It will sleep a dozen with ease, and more if there are daring souls who can take up residence on the screened-in front porch. In the days of the early 20th century, it was not unusual for families to be large enough to fill the place to the brim. In the present day of smaller nuclear families, it means lots of extended-family visits can happen at the same time. Many cottages host three or four generations of a family as the summer days flow by.

Sleepy Hollow has a life, too: just about every year, Julia's sister, the current owner, has a portion of the cottage reshingled, along with taking care of any needed minor work such as replacement of risers, reframing a window or two...all the stuff of keeping a cottage on this vast inland sea for more than 100 years. It has to be alive, experiencing renewal in its very bones to live here along this water for so long.

This year, it was the front porch area which was reshingled. Thus, the fresh look in the photo above. By next summer, with a winter's blasting, those shingles will take on the same deep, silver-gray of the older shingles.

The winters here are ferocious, as lake-effect snow piles some years higher than the front story of the cottage. So, yearly maintenance is a given.

In our case, we waited until the shoulder season after Labor Day for our visit. We have this huge place to ourselves. The resort is left to the few in number once Labor Day has passed. Most are now back in their regular lives where the school year and work life dictate where one must be, when.

Here is where we will live for the next two weeks. I hope to bring a flavor of the place to you, as I record it for my own joy.

(the upper photo is the view from the steps of Sleepy Hollow, toward Ludington, the little town just south of the resort where everyone shops and eats out and chats in the coffee shops and art galleries and the book store--you can see the lighthouse which guards the harbor on the right. The lower photo is of the car ferry which travels twice a day across the lake from Ludington to Manitowoc, Wisconsin. Again, taken from the steps of Sleep Hollow this morning)

1 comment:

Karen said...

You're in Michigan! I grew up there. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful, huh?

Thanks for your kind words on my blog. I'm so excited about breaking through this barrier of painting faces...

I see you like I Capture the Castle--isn't it a wonderful book? I 'discovered' it a few years ago, was completely charmed by it.