My latest escape fantasy involves a little house in the southwest corner of Michigan and plenty of lazy walks, bike rides in the country, organic apples and blueberries, old furniture and beach time. I don’t think it’s happening in the long-term, but it was fun to dream this weekend during our annual trip to Bridgeman. Our 3-day trip was the perfect mix of beach, friends and food.
I took the day off on Friday, intending to participate in The Boy’s and The Girl’s planned last-day-of-camp fun (kids v. grown-ups). But when I gave the kids a choice between last-day-of-camp fun and going to Michigan, they chose the Great Lake state.
Friday was our best beach day, with blue skies, hot sun and warm water. The Tot and I, and The Dad and The Boy spent most of the afternoon bobbing up and down with the tide. Then a giant wave smacked me and The Tot, his giant noggin bounced off my chin, and I was done with the beach for the day. Afterward, we went back to the “cottage” (which The Tot invariably referred to as “college,” much to my initial confusion) for baths, clean clothes and a brief visit with the cottage owners. We headed up to South Haven for dinner, where we met Natty for dinner at the fabulous Phoenix Street Cafe (there wasn’t a wait for a table, let alone an hour-long one at the dark [and oddly famous] Clementine’s). Dinner was yummy and I’m a sucker for blueberry cobbler (The Tot ate my a la mode ice cream). Didn’t try the infused vodka; did have some cool Michigan reisling. As it turned out, this dinner was the highlight of the trip for The Girl, who spent the evening of Natty’s last day with us crying inconsolably.
On Saturday morning, I met my friend Katie at the farmer’s market in St. Joseph. She recently edited The Family Guide to Berrien County*, a book that any parent going to Michigan’s harbor country should purchase. The book details all sorts of out-of-the-way places and activities for families, including many that I was unable to find last year in my pre-iPhone days. I’m already planning a fall visit so we can go to the Four Flags Apple Festival or St. Joseph’s Harvest Festival, which I wouldn’t have known about before the book. Katie served as my own personal tour guide to the St. Joe farmer’s market, where I picked up 5 pounds of organic blueberries that I’ll make pie or cobbler with if I don’t eat them all before I can get to it. And some fabulous cookies from the Mennonite bakers. Katie also gave us the history of the St. Joe Carousel, which we all rode twice, accompanied by an old-time and superloud mechanical pipe organ.
After picking up groceries at the Harding’s back in Bridgeman, we headed to the beach again on Saturday afternoon. It was much cooler, and the previous evening’s storm had churned up the water significantly. The Boy and The Tot and The Dad went in, but The Girl and I stayed on the beach, soaking up the warmth of the sun and doing crossword puzzles (me) and lying in the sand complaining (The Girl). In fact, she complained so much that The Dad dubbed her our family’s own sand crab.
I had a brief snooze after de-sanding back at the cottage, while The Girl, The Boy and The Tot watched Pixar shorts on The Dad’s laptop. We then had a few Raise Your Hand friends over for a potluck. The Dad grilled out, I poured wine, and The Boy, The Girl and The Tot were in heaven with the three 7-year-old and one 4-year-old boys and one four-year-old girl with whom they could play.
* I can’t quite decide if I should tell you that this book was written as a school fundraiser. Given how often I talk about school funding these days, it should come as no surprise to any reader.