Friday, July 29, 2011
The Best Place on Earth
When my dad's father was a boy, his family would sometimes travel up to New York State to spend a few weeks on the shores of Lake Erie. When he had children of his own, he and my grandmother took them on frequent trips to the same area - mostly to a particular little turn-of-the-century quiet beach community. Sometime in the 70s, they finally bought a cottage of their own. And that little place has come to mean so much to my family. Although it has a name, as they all do up there ("Maple Oak"), it's referred to simply as The Cottage.
The little beach homes up there are all known as cottages (not beach homes, not cabins for goodness sake!). They are simply made from wooden boards over a frame - without any insulation. They have big open front porches, swings or hammocks in the yards, and some of them (like ours) have wooden board walls that don't actually reach the ceilings (to allow for air circulation, in a time when people didn't have fans and air conditioning).
Life up there is perfect. Simple, beautiful, and relaxing. People walk or ride bikes to get where they are going. The neighborhood is pretty small, and yet there are woods, three playgrounds, tennis courts, volleyball courts, soccer field, basketball court....and of course, beach. None of these things, I feel the need to say, are "well-kept" or "monitored" or in any way pretentious.
I've been going up there my entire life, and I can confidently say - as can every member of my large extended family - that it is THE best place on Earth. Each summer, we have one week which is designated "Family Week" where the entire extended family goes up together. My grandparents (who are no longer living) have 8 kids, 26 grandkids, and (so far) 19 great-grandkids. When you factor in everyone's spouses too...it's a big crowd! Two of my uncles have purchased cottages of their own, as have two of my dad's cousins. That makes five cottages under our family name! And believe me, we need all the space we can get during Family Week.
I write about this now because we are leaving to go there today. Even as an adult, I still long for this week all year, and get a thrill in my heart when we finally arrive at The Cottage. This year will be especially poignant, because I'll be introducing my son to the place for the first time.
I could go on about it for hours and hours. But instead, let me just share some of the story through pictures. I hope you readers can get a small glimpse of what makes this place so amazing for me.