What’s Your Favorite Place?

The CottageIs there a place that will forever hold a piece of your soul?

For me that place is the former site of our family cottage on the shores of Otter Lake in Honor, Michigan.

As a kid, I would go every summer with my family for weeks at a time to the little green cabin nestled in what is now part of the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. There was no television, barely a radio, and this was before the invention of e-mail, let alone i-devices. On clear days I woke up with the sun to go fishing with my dad and then hiked and ran for hours on the trails which wound through the surrounding forests. I would return in time to hear the whippoorwill and read or write in a lounge chair on the screened-in porch to the sound of lapping waves until I couldn’t keep my eyes open.

On rainy days I put together puzzles, read more books, maybe listened to tales of Lake Woebegon. I wrote in a journal every day and this was the birthplace of some of my first attempts at writing a novel.

That place, more than any other place, felt like magic to me. I had no cares in the world; nothing to fill my mind but stories and daydreams.

That place, more than any other place, allowed me to be myself.

Of course I got to be myself at home, and still do, but home is full of its own responsibilities, chores, to-do lists; it’s not always the place that you get to relax and be the best you.

Do you have a favorite place? A place that will always be a part of you?

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14 Responses to What’s Your Favorite Place?

  1. Sarah L Fox says:

    Saratoga Beach on Vancouver Island, just off the coast of Vancouver. I went there every summer with my family when I was growing up. The fictional town in my next mystery series is inspired by Saratoga Beach. =)

    • Nicole says:

      Those family vacations make for some great memories, don’t they? Thanks for sharing your favorite place, Sarah. I’m looking forward to the new mystery!

  2. My special place was a borrowed cottage in Harbor Springs, and I perfectly identify with everything you’ve said here. It was certainly the birthplace of my reading life (as with you, no TV and a great comfy porch). I started reading American Indian sagas there, bought at local stores in Petoskey and at the nearby tourism shops (the fort at Mackinac Island had a great bookstore). I can’t say I started writing there, that I recall, but I clearly recall the melding in my mind of tales of the frontier and the fur trade with Lord of the Rings and Narnia type fantasy. I sort of found my way from real history to legendary tales, which is the combination I ended up writing some thirty-odd years later. Cool topic, and great photos, Nicole!

    (Also, Sarah, I LOVE Vancouver Island and the west coast of Canada! I bet you’d love Northern Michigan, too–they have a lot in common.

    • Nicole says:

      How fun that your special place is so nearby! I love Harbor Springs and Petoskey, they are beautiful towns with great views of the bay. I read primarily historical fiction at that time as well so most of my daydreams were of myself exploring an untouched wilderness, and it often felt real there. I look forward to discovering how you’ve blended history with fantasy in your epic series!

      None of the photos I have of the cottage are digital, so I’ve tried both scanning and taking pictures of pictures. The results so far have been rather grainy, but in a way I think it adds some character, or at least an older feeling, to the pictures.

      Thanks for sharing your favorite place. Now when I drive through Harbor Springs I’ll be on the lookout for what might have been Vaughn Roycroft’s retreat. :)

  3. Donna says:

    Having been part of the trips to the cottage on Otter Lake, I agree that it cast a spell on our whole family. Peace, quiet, rest and beauty all contributed to us unwinding and growing. When it was time for the land to revert to the gov. We began to look for a place we could transform into a haven…it’s not exact (because you just can’t repeat some things) but we have an everyday haven in our current home. I feel the peace descend on me when I turn down my dirt road. Quiet and beauty surround me..it’s our new “Otter Lake” on the Sturgeon.

    • Nicole says:

      You do have an incredible haven on the river. I’m so happy you decided to move there. ;) I know what you mean about not being able to replicate that feeling. I try whenever I go back to visit, but somehow the trails seems shorter, or the lake smaller. The combination of it having been “ours” as well as the lack of child-like wonder, which I seem to have a harder time finding these days, makes it bitter-sweet. I love to visit and remember. I hope I can continue to collect and share the stories so that a piece of it, perhaps, can be captured and carry on.

  4. brindle808 says:

    We had a summer cottage on Christina Lake in the interior of British Columbia.The closest town was Grand Forks where we would do the weekly shopping. We listened to the radio, played card games, swam, water-skied, and of course, read – all summer long. I didn’t think life got much better than that. Porridge, to me, only tastes great, when it’s been cooked over an old Franklin wood stove. Hats off to my mother! Now, my favourite place is Drumbeg Park where I walk my dog on a daily basis. I have developed a fondness for the smooth arbutus trees and the sandstone formations of Gabriola Island.

    • Nicole says:

      Wow, a cottage in British Columbia! That sounds amazing. I know what you mean about the porridge. We had a fish fry every week (or more often depending on the number of fish we caught) and I’ve never had fish that tasted as good as that pan-fried bluegill and perch.

      I love to hear that you have a new place that you get to enjoy daily. It sounds beautiful. Thanks for reading and sharing, Brin! I hope you have a lovely walk today.

  5. My grandfather built a commercial hunting/fishing lodge in the Medicine Bow National Forest. My father stayed up there for a while when he was little, then my Grandfather sold it and it came back to him/our family a couple of times. We have pictures from when I was 3-4 years old up there, and I have a scar on my forehead where I fell and hit my head on a piano in the activity room (a forever reminder?) Then there was a period where other people owned it, my grandfather died and my father and aunt got the Lodge back (default on payments? something like that.) It was in poor shape and, even though we tried so hard to get it to work over several years, we eventually lost the battle and it was razed. During those years of trying to preserve the buildings, we would go every summer into the mountains and work to make the Lodge usable, with no electricity or running water, even. When I think of places that will always be a part of me, it’s the Lodge and the Medicine Bow National Forest. Luckily, I can still go to the forest and camp, and one of the best moments of my life was to take my boys camping and staying in the campground where we used to go to get water. We walked up to where the Lodge used to be (and the historic cabins still are) and I shared with them stories about their Grandma and Grandpa and Auntie Dyan. It really was magical. :)

    • Nicole says:

      I so sorry that you ended up losing the lodge. That must have been so sad for your family after all those years, and all that work. I know we were all devastated when we lost our cottage. It’s great that you’re able to take your boys there and go camping, as well as tell them the stories of your family’s legacy there. I’m sure it will become a special place for them as well. I’ve driven through Wyoming a few times and I absolutely love it. I don’t recall seeing Medicine Bow National Forest, so I looked up some pictures and it is breathtaking. What a gorgeous area! Thank you for sharing this, Lara. I can completely empathize! I hope the forest continues to be preserved and available for generations to come.

  6. ddfalvo says:

    I love this, Nicole. I grew up the daughter of a ‘sportsman’. Dad enjoyed hunting, fishing, and camping; all things a little girl who wanted to be a princess would despise. Endless hours on Lake Michigan for an only child (siblings came later) = utter boredom. Then we began staying in Canada; the wilderness trails winding to crystal clear lake water beat navigating the Chicago Lock hands down. The wind would roll through the trees in a forest that went on forever. The land inclined with rocks for a princess, now also an adventurer, to scale and claim as mountains of her own. Though we went back to Ontario many times, my favorite cabin was the A-Frame; it had the least amount of good space, an attribute which my parents did not favor so we only stayed in that one once. But in my memory the shape is still very cool. It was like a fairy house. ;)

    *Chicago Lock– a waterway downtown Chigo where you go through a series of dammed up ‘locks’ and wait for the water to rise before going out on the lake.

  7. Tom Stone says:

    My favorite place has to be the cottage too. Since I practically grew up there in summers, and experienced all the things you did as a child myself, and you capture the feeling beautifully. We have been other places we like as well: Porqupine Mts and the waterfalls; Marquette; Yosemity; Acadia; Nova Scotia; Prince Edward Island… but for peace and tranquility Otter Lake can’t be beaten.

    • Nicole says:

      I think one of my hesitations in writing some of the stories is the desire to do it justice. I’ll do my best. :) I love Marquette as well. It’s probably the closest thing to the cottage for me now, but I don’t think anything can ever replace Otter Lake as my favorite place.

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