The Longest, Hardest Week....

September 19, 2008 13:28 by ehouston

  What is it about the week after a vacation?  No matter how relaxing the vacation was, the week after seems to bring you back to soul-crushing reality so fast that you seriously start to rethink your path in life.  Then, finally the week settles down and you realize things are not so bad, you simply miss that little piece of heaven you were just immersed in the week before.  I have to say, that this has probably been one of the worst versions of that "week after" a vacation I have ever experienced.  It started with meetings, continued with more meetings and speaking engagements and ended with me sucking down a bottle of wine (or is that whine?) with my significant other by 5:00 PM on Friday.  Don't get me wrong, the week in St. Maarten that ended in 8 hours of flying in circles over a lightning storm at the Miami airport, only to miss our connector flight and end up spending an extra night of vacation at a hotel by the airport (which always sounds like "in a van down by the river" to me)-not so good.  The evening ended with eating almost everything on the room service menu at 12:00 am, that wasn't so great either.  There was also the extra day in Mexico because our flight was canceled early on our last morning, which we did not find out about until we showed up to check in for our flight.  That was also the moment in which the customer service lady boldly asked, "Didn't you know?".  My husband and I deliriously looked at each other and simultaneously thought, "Of course we knew the flight was canceled, we always get up in the morning, pack our bags, load up our golf clubs, lug them through a resort, pay an extravagant price to be taxied up the coast and then wait in line for 45 minutes when we know our flight was canceled.  Doesn't everyone do this on their vacation?"  Even those chaotic vacation endings did not take away from the fun we had experienced the week before or compare to the feeling of sadness I had this past week back at work.  All this to say, we had the most glorious week of do-nothing-unless-you-wanted-to vacation time at our family lake cottage that we could ever imagine and I sorely miss it!  So, the complaining will end now and the reminiscing will begin.

I will start by saying that any time you tell your co-workers you are going on vacation, etc, etc they inevitably ask, "So where are you headed off to?" and when you tell them Michigan their expression is priceless.  So, I had a lot of fun with that up until we left and I will further explain that my family has owned a cottage on a small lake right next to Lake Michigan since the early 1950's.  It is somewhat dated, wood paneled, funky, full of hand-me-down furniture and wonderful memories.  I will never be able to completely explain the feeling of anticipation I get when driving down the bumpy dirt road through the woods to discover the little gray, shake shingled cottage on the lake.  Or, the way the musty, sandy, watery scent of good times past forms a comforting embrace as you push open the back door that is never locked.  Only to walk across the kitchen, the dining area and out onto the little deck and gaze across the mirror-like surface of one of the clearest, prettiest lakes you can imagine. 


I realized the picture I blogged just before our trip does not do this place any justice.  Especially after I was able to capture the sunset from our first night (pictured above).  The week we vacationed was the end of the summer and outside of this little lake world the bay cities were slowly closing down for the winter.  It was nice to walk the streets in brisk, but comfortable weather and to miss the crowds completely.  To peruse the tiny, kitschy shops with their T-shirts and good luck Petoskey stones.  Things have changed so much, not only since I lived there, but since all those summers while I was growing up, spent making the long drive to the cottage and then back home.  A lot of the same families are still living in the area, but there is also a new crowd, a younger crowd, that like me, have some kind of connection to this place that is almost ingrained, or instinctual.  We are drawn to this place and have to find a way back a often as possible. 

Even though the shops were bundling up and getting ready to hunker down for the long winter, my absolutely favorite place was still in full swing.  That place is the tiny little small town bakery.  I remember going there as a very young child with my dad when he would drag me in to town to buy supplies at the little hardware store on Main St.  If I was good, which meant, I was patient while he placed his orders, or sifted through the itty-bitty drawers of nuts and bolts, he would take me to get a treat at the bakery.  I remember taking my time, looking through the glass case at every type of donut, smashing my face and greasy little kid fingers on the glass before finally making my selection.  And, every time I would come back to the same thing...the nutty crescents.  Cake donuts, glazed and then rolled in finely chopped peanuts.  Dunkin Donuts has a version, but the treats at this little, family-owned shop have always been far superior.  I was so scared that when I arrived they would no longer have my favorite donut and this trip would end in terrible tragedy (Yes, they are that delicious!).  It had been six years since I had been there and you just never know with little coastal beach towns what will still be there and what will have completely changed.  The last time I had saddled up to a stool at the curving, diner style bar was when I took my ailing father for what I believe was his last trip to the cottage before passing.  I remember talking with him on the way and reminiscing about all the fun times he had experienced here as a child with his parents, and as the head of our household.  I also clearly remember us both agreeing in unison that the bakery was our first stop when we finally decided to head in to town.  The reason the choice was unanimous was because we both had a secret love of those delightful peanutty donuts.

Well, after ten years of marriage (celebrated the week of our vacation) I managed to get the Mr. up to the cottage for his first trip and after six long years I was able to satisfy my donut fix.  It may seem silly, but some cravings just never go away and for some of us, no matter how many times we move, or places we live there is always some far off place, seemingly insignificant to everyone else that calls to us as home.


Our little cottage in Heaven....

and the view from the front porch....


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