My happy spot is a gated community on the shores of Lake Erie called Lakeside. My family and I have rented a cottage this week and are busy taking in the sights and sounds of the summer season.
Like its more famous cousin in New York, Lakeside is a Chautauqua-style vacation spot dating back to the late 1800’s. Visitors breathe in its history and shroud of vacationing happiness from the moment they pass through the gate. Writers draw inspiration from the ivy crawling up the sides of the quaint, and sometimes creepy, Victorian cottages. At least I do.
Something for everyone
Lakeside has entertainment galore for young and old alike. The kiddies can run and shout in the splash pool, collect sand in their bottoms on the beach, or jump and climb on one of the many playgrounds sprinkled throughout the grounds.
Teens can play video games, ping-pong, foosball or good old-fashioned board games in the teen center by the lake. And people of all ages can compete in shuffleboard, miniature golf, tennis, and basketball or enjoy nightly entertainment in Hoover Auditorium. On Saturday, we were entertained by Felix Cavalieri’s Rascals.
If games aren’t your thing, well then, you may want to sign up for an art class at the Rhein Center, take a yoga or cooking class, set sail on a sailboat or enjoy a walk by the lake. This week, I’ll turn hammered silverware into plant markers and make a lighted glass block. I’ll also connect with fellow author, Jena Henry, who teaches a class on self-publishing each week during the season.
There’s ice-cream and shopping, too — half the fun is moving around by bike or golf cart from store to store.
To have and to hold
This is our twenty-third year for Lakeside. (Don’t I feel old.) My husband and I first drove through the gate to celebrate our one-year anniversary in 1993. Lakeside grabbed a hold of my heart on that visit, and we’ve returned every year since, eventually bringing our children, friends and extended family with us.
From time to time, I try to articulate what makes Lakeside unique in this day and age of exotic vacations and four-star hotels. The accommodations are not fancy. You bring your own sheets and towels in most of the cottage rentals. It’s not uncommon to sit on mismatched furniture or sleep in beds with patchwork quilts. In the cottage where we are staying, family photos decorate the walls in the dining room, along with a collection of teacups. Harmless bugs, called Mayflies, swarm in from off the lake and roost in the rafters on the outside patio. The houses are built so close together, the smell of the neighbor’s dinner on the grill drifts into the yard, making my mouth water.
No the accommodations are less than desirable, and yet, I find myself relaxing into the cushions on the wicker chairs and soaking in the ambience of the place, like the air plant on my kitchen window at home after a long period without water. Today, I churn out 1,000 words on my current manuscript, and I write this blog.
“Smell that?” My mother-in-law asks, peering into the window of the cottage across the street, which is for sale.
I dutifully take a whiff. The musty smell of old wood and damp, like a thousand storms off the lake, assaults my nostrils.
“That’s the smell of old houses.”
“I love that smell,” I say. Even as the words leave my mouth, I realize I do love that smell.
“You do?” she asks.
“Yeah,” I say, but I find myself at a loss for words to explain why.
Perhaps that is Lakeside’s magic. One hundred years from now, you and I won’t be here, but Lakeside will still welcome tired vacationers to its shores — to be rejuvenated, to soak in its history, and to try and put words to its mystique and charm, which has us returning year after year.Need a Shot of Inspiration? You Can't Beat Lakeside Ohio #TWRP #Lakesideoh #NEORWA Click To Tweet