In 1985, two very non-adventurous and unspontaneous people set out for a trip to the Leelanau Peninsula and ended up purchasing a very small house on Lake Leelanau. What came as an initial shock to their family, turned out to be one of the best decisions they ever made, shaping the lives of future generations to come.
For over thirty summers now, I have visited this little house on the lake. As I child, it was the only destination I knew to vacation in. As a teenager, I would leave my hometown and work in the village of Leland for 3 months straight, loving every minute of small town summer and surprisingly learning how great it was to be a teen living at Grandma’s house.
This house became the symbol of summer. While we definitely visited during the winter months, this was the place where summer dreams came to life. Despite what the temperatures or calendar might claim, I never felt like summer had actually arrived until my first trip up north for the season, taking a ride on Grandpa’s fishing boat or sticking my toes in Lake Michigan’s warm sand.
Any excuse to drive up to Northern Michigan has always been good enough for me, even more so in the recent years. Relaxation or work, I’ve done it all. I’ve cleared Grandpa’s workbench on more than one occasion to arrange flowers. I’ve taken over the garage with buckets of blooms. I’ve even played tenant, going as far as to physically change my home address to this location, on more than one occasion in my life.
As I grew older, so did my grandparents and I began to realize that this destination that had become such an iconic part of my existence, might one day belong to someone else. I might have to pay to stay in a hotel on my beloved peninsula. My children might not ever experience this place in all of its glory or know what it’s truly like to have a bonfire by the lake. One day that well known boathouse, the one just before the narrows with the bright red roof, might just be a passing memory that belonged to someone else. Summer might cease to exist.
As the years moved on, fear crept into the back of my mind, with each visit I worried that this might be one of the last. Was there any way that our family could keep this house?
My grandma passed away five years ago, my grandpa a couple years following. If I had the funds to afford this outdated, updated and outdated again little slice of heaven, I would move to Lake Leelanau in a heartbeat. That wasn’t in the cards though. However, there was a plan. Thankfully after a couple of years of indecision, my parents were able to purchase the house and last month officially became residents of Lake Leelanau.
This magical place is staying in the family and will always be my home away from home. My Leelanau ties won’t be undone and if perhaps someday my dream could come true, I might one day permanently call Leelanau home too.