We went to Wally’s family cottage this weekend. Wally’s Grandma Ott owns a cute little house in Sawyer, Michigan, just past the Michigan/Indiana border on Lake Michigan. The neighborhood is built in the middle of a gorgeous forest full of steep hills, creeks, and tall trees. The streets wind on and on.

The cottage is not right on the lake, which is perhaps one of the best things about it. Because beach access is a short walk from the cottage, they own golf carts and two mopeds from the 70s that are still running. (They don’t make things like they used too, right?)


Because of these fun transportation options, some of our best cottage times are when we just decide to cruise around and explore. (One of my best cottage memories was when we came here with baby Wally, who had given us months and months of colic followed by months and months of being on the go. He never snuggled. Until he was around 9 months old and we took a golf cart ride around at the cottage, and I looked down, and miracle of all miracles he was asleep—in my arms. I made husband Wally take an extra lap around so I could enjoy that special pleasure of a big baby’s heavy weight leaning into my torso just a little longer.) And because I often have the pleasure of riding in the back of the golf cart facing backward, I still have no idea where anything is or where the cottage lies within the community.


The cottage is not fancy, but it is nice—it does the job of being a cottage perfectly. Two bedrooms, one bathroom, a kitchen, laundry room, and a nice living room. Wally Ben calls the cottage “the place where Poppy sleeps up” because the living room has a cool winding staircase up to a 3.5 foot high loft that overlooks the living room and has sleeping pads for extra sleeping space when multiple families stay. The very best room of all, though, is where I am sitting now as I write—a huge screened in porch where you can enjoy the woodsy outside from inside.


Husband Wally has so many memories from his various trips up here throughout his life. He remembers playing in the lake—sailboating, playing on rafts, diving in the big waves. He remembers Home Run derbies with his family in the cottage yard. He remembers cruising around on golf carts just like we are today—and crazy golf cart rides with his grandpa, Wally II, who was apparently quite the driver.


He remembers visiting the “Sugar Bowl”, a cool secret spot in the woods where you have to squeeze the golf cart between narrow trees until you reach a sudden clearing where the ground is covered with pine needles and sand (the “sugar” in the middle of this big bowl). He remembers playing hide and seek here, where all you have to do is duck behind a tree at the correct angle from the seeker and you are perfectly hidden. We drove there today for a quick round of hide and seek, and on the way we saw wild turkeys and a few deer moseying around.


Today we took a walk from the cottage beach access to the Warren Dunes, which are about a mile beach walk north. We didn’t plan to go there. The kids were playing near the water and Wally IV asked them if they wanted to go on a walk, and they both replied “No.” He then just started running away from the waves along the shoreline in the direction of the dunes, and of course, they followed. (Note to self, a “walk” never sounds fun to a kid, but exploring along the water just might.)

On our walk, we pointed out our favorite beach-view cottages—the more windows the better. I started to imagine what it would be like when the kids are grown up, if we were to sell our house and retire in one of these gorgeous homes. It would have to be big enough so the kids could visit regularly with their families. I could write with a gorgeous view, and we could take golf cart rides, walk along the beach in the good seasons. We could cozy up under the 8 foot blanket of snow in the winter, snowshoe and sled down the Warren Dunes. I started to get jealous of my future self, the easy, restful life I would have.

And then I looked at my view. My handsome husband and two gorgeous kids who are splashing in the water, finding and throwing rocks, thoroughly entertained by this impromptu adventure. This lake, this sand, this incredible fall weekend. And I thought—what is this happiness I am looking forward to? Is it really something that is to be obtained sometime in the far, far future? Is it really just a dream I have? Happiness is happening here, right now, right before my eyes, right within my heart. We are happy.


When we got back from the dunes, I suggested an early dinner. Our day had been full of adventure. We had missed lunch, our trip was nearly done. Only one more night. Husband Wally then surprised me with more happy news—it was only just noon. The day stretched out before us. Wally Ben had said at least 10 times that day already, “We are having fun at the cottage!” How could there possibly be room in the day for 10 more times?

Maybe this is what living in the moment can do—make time stretch out and out. Or maybe this is just the work of a family cottage, where you can just go with no agenda, no plan for what you will do. Where you can explore, find adventures, and enjoy.

Thank you, Grandma Ott, for sharing with us. Thank you for making these times possible. We love our cottage times.

Cottage  FullSizeRender