1. What inspired you to pen Come To The Lake? Come To The Lake evolved as a book after 18 years of note taking. I witnessed and lived summer lake life in one of the last remaining summer cottages standing on the shores of Pleasant Lake in southeastern Wisconsin. I happily sketched, with words, my lake experiences and Nature’s bountiful stories. I loved reflecting on the simplicity of our cottage life…our routine of breaking all routines. And I carefully recorded moments of raising two young boys (and a constant gaggle of imported friends from town) as their, hopefully, cherished legacy. At some point I needed a book in MY hand, thus the print journey began. At first with my jumble of notes, it seemed there might be three books! Fortunately that wasn’t the case.
2. What do you love most about spending time at your lakeside cottage? That’s like asking me to pick a favorite from a farmstand of fruits and vegetables! First, I am a devoted fan of fresh-water lakes. I was fortunate to spend weeks of many summers paddling the northern Wisconsin boundary waters while attending a YMCA Camp. Sitting in a kayak or canoe puts me straight to center. Besides any activity on the lake which includes every motorless paddling opportunity and miles of swimming, the lure of the cottages is equally pleasing. I cherish how we ‘family’ at the lake. Our routines switch from distraction to engagement. It begins the minute we walk down the hill, every time. I have to add the communal gatherings, our shared meals and open air living. Throw in a roaring fire as well.
3. Tell us about your cottage and how you came upon it? Thirty-six years ago I met a man who I thought I would have a fling with. My first, since I was a ‘relationship’ girl. The fling concept backfired when he shared his family’s 1920’s cottage with me. We paddled a canoe together seamlessly and that sealed the deal. That cottage is called The Shelter and Matthew (my fling-turned-husband) shares it with his brother. My brother and I bought Matthew’s uncle’s 1950’s cottage, named The Cottage Next Door, almost twenty years ago. My husband and I are neighbors. They both are authentic summer cottages, built for seasonal living with one-ply walls, windows that hook, and water systems that need to be protected from harsh Wisconsin winters. We ‘open’ and ‘close’ the cottages every spring and fall.
4. So is your book for Lake People only or does it have universal appeal? My goal is to provide my reader and speaking audience with a pleasurable pause. With Come To The Lake I provide my reader with the respite of a lake visit. What I am learning is that it doesn’t matter if you are familiar or not with cottage lake life, the book brings a quietude for all to enjoy. I learned from a reader in Virginia who, as she described herself was not really ‘into lakes’, but when she needs calming, she picks up my book. Again and again. Then there are those who see my book cover and instantly relate to cottages and lakes and feel compelled to share their common experiences. So my answer is both. We all can be Lake People.
5. What do you and your family do when you spend time at the lake? A lot of activity centers on enjoying all aspects of the lake. Just this morning, my husband greeted me with, ‘So, do you want to go for a paddle?’ When the boys were young, our piers were filled with swimmers of all levels spending endless hours immersed in the lake. We have a long history of Euchre games, Scrabble, Charades and assorted activities…like collecting rocks with holes in them. My passion for Tiny Kitchen cooking means that we ‘eat in’ at the lake which actually means we ‘eat out’…on the deck perched over the lake. My husband is a musician so music is a big part of life. Maybe best of all is the conversations we share. We talk at the lake.
6. What transforms visitors to the lake to another place and time? Being near water is transforming. Ocean, lakes, rivers, ponds, streams, back- yard fountains all provide enjoyment of another dimension. Add to that, in our particular situation with historic summer cottages basically unchanged for almost a century, the transformation goes deeper. Imagine simply the change in routine when television is not part of the equation. This is the last hold-out in our lives where we are not dominated every minute by world news. We can choose to disconnect from all our devices, which brings us together in a way people used to participate all the time. It is actually shocking how once we go back up the hill, or as my son use to say ‘back to life’ how jolting it is to re-enter.
7. Have we increasingly lost touch with nature? If so, it’s by choice. Nature never stops providing a back drop. Whether you are in the middle of New York City or in suburbia, tuning into the natural world is a practiced art. That’s why people are birders, and gardeners, and hikers…to connect with nature. If we have generations of people who only choose to interact with their surroundings through cyberspace, or a government who does not choose to protect all of nature’s glories, then sadly yes, we have lost touch. Maybe the latter is what is making Come To The Lake resonate beyond Pleasant Lake. It truly celebrates connecting with our surroundings. One paddle at a time.
8. How does one wean oneself off their devices and gadgets of choice? There is the million dollar question that I am afraid I don’t have the answer to. Unfortunately with smart phones and IPads and hotspots we have way too much access to the cyber world than I would choose at the lake. For me, I have to physically stop myself from the chronic practice of checking in. I go from Gmail, to Huffington Post to Facebook like a hamster on a wheel and have to physically remove myself from the practice. And I face the quandary of my camera being in my phone..I love to capture images while on the lake, but there is my phone staring at me daring me to ‘connect’. It’s a challenge worth trying though. And I am determined to succeed!
9. Is a lakeside retreat for those who’ve become too accustomed to a bustling life? That’s a generalization I don’t assume to make. Years ago my cousin, an extremely busy oncologist at Sloan Kettering, checked his family into the Shelter one summer and, once everyone got settled, put on his swimsuit grabbed his laptop and went out on the end of the pier. I saw him open his computer and then look up at the sky like…what, no WIFI? Those were the years before hotspots so he literally had to face five days with his family without the ability to connect cyberly. As time passed, he relished the experience and they did choose to return the following year. But there have been those where the lake respite was too much of a good thing. And they haven’t been back.
10. Is the quality of the print production intended to reflect the feel of the lake? In my former life as a Marketing Manager for The Parker Pen Co. and as an individual marketing/branding consultant, I was responsible for overseeing a lot of high-end print production. I am passionate about the entire creative process from concept to rolling off the presses, so my standard for my books is old school, top end off-set printing. I want the book to be a piece of art to hold in one’s hand. Come To The Lake is a linen wrapped, embossed, hard-cover book featuring archival paper, four color images and was printed to an Art House standard. It actually is described as a small coffee table book. The upshot of those details is yes, it does reflect the beauty and warmth of The Lake.
11. What are some of your favorite vignettes of cottage life? Again, that’s a Sophie’s Choice question…I have so many to reflect on that bring me great joy. The book breaks down my favorite vignettes by category…raising boys on the lake, hosting family and friend gatherings, reflections on Nature, and finally my joy in cooking for and feeding those I love. I cherish the memories of lake-scented young boys planning Girl Scout raids and playing King Of The Raft. And the multitude of musical evenings we’ve shared with friends and the images of platters of food and beverages consumed. Then there are the singular moments I’ve shared with the Sand Hill Cranes, Blue Herons, assorted turtles and other wildlife. I’ll end with the image of my son Rob playing taps at dusk each night on the pier.
12. A portion of your book serves which organizations and why? Our lake is fortunate to have two very active Girls Scout Camps on its shores. Their existence is very important to our quality of life on the lake. The camps occupy large natural footage of our lakeshore which means we have a very low density of residences on the lake. We all experience the joy of the girls exploring the lake as they swim, sail, paddle and giggle their way through summer. Their morning and evening bells and songs are a cherished routine for all. The health of the Lake is directly related to the health of the camps and it is my pleasure to support them by donating a portion of sales revenue from both my books.
13. What is it about being by water that humans need to be near? As I mentioned above, any type of water element whether created by Nature or man is transforming. I’m not sure I can explain why the pull of being on or near water or creating environments based around water is so strong but I can attest that personally, my world changes when I am on The Lake. And I think many people share that experience. Vacations are planned around beaches, lakes, streams with good reason. The water offers us a chance to experience Natures’ routines as in the ebb and rise of the tides, or the morning and evening song of lakes which carry us away from our traditional settings. The sound alone of water is renowned for its’ therapeutic effects. Simply stated, water is life!
14. You include some recipes in your book. Please share with us one of your favorites. I’m discovering I have a problem with picking favorites! So let’s go by course: Favorite appetizer… Vidalia Onion Baked Cheese Dip. Hands down a crowd favorite in all its cheesy flavor-fullness. Salad…I love the summer freshness of L Corn Salad. A great solution to left over corn-on-the-cob combined simply with fresh tomatoes, sweet onion and basil tossed in balsamic vinegar. Entree…my signature Lemon Roasted Chicken and Roasted Onion/Pepper Orzo platter with spinach and asparagus sides. Dessert…Wine Cake, a simple buttery cake that you can dress up with any berries, whip cream, ice cream or devour plain. My signature Champagne Cocktails accompany every course and plate happily. Bon Appetit and Cheers!
15. How did the lake help rejuvenate you during your 30 plus year marketing career? The Lake always represents a ‘world away’ for me. But back in the day before cell phones when I visited the lake from Atlanta, I would drive miles to a pay phone situated on a busy highway to ‘check-in’ with the office. I remember having zero patience for any unnecessary detail reported to me during those calls and being very anxious to return to lake life. But most importantly, being on the lake offered me quiet time to reflect on creative solutions to communication challenges and I experienced many an ‘aha” moment while paddling. Thus the brand ‘Feather Bay’ for a textile manufacturer! And by leaving behind typical routines, I gained fresh perspectives that I brought back to my work-a-day world.
16. Any tips to planning a lakeside vacation? Though that is not my area of expertise, I will offer some advice. First know what kind of lake experience suits you. Are you comfortable with simple surroundings and a rustic atmosphere? If so, researching lake cabins or cottages makes sense. If you need fancy lake toys and air conditioning and all the accoutrements from home then a newly constructed lake home would be more suitable. Whatever your predisposition, I would suggest that you do your best to leave your routine behind. Pack books, games, lots of sunscreen and be open to enjoying the lake fully without carrying literally, too much baggage from home. As one of my boo marks states….’Jump In! The water’s great’.
17. How does being on the Lake rekindle fond memories of childhood? Personally, living in an authentic summer cottage on a pristine Wisconsin lake reminds me of my years of attending summer camp and all the accompanying sights, smells and activities. As a parent, I made it my mission to provide an environment of lake traditions and routines that our sons would immerse in and have those memories embedded eternally. And as a grandparent I am doing my best to do the same for our grandchildren as they choose to spend time with us at the lake enjoying all the same traditions that have been carried out through generations in the cottages.
18. You say that ‘Life’s a journey. Remember to take notes’. Is your book a compilation of your journey notes? Absolutely. Eighteen years’ worth of my note taking. I was inspired and compelled to record all that I experienced while summering at The Lake. I wrote for myself, for my children and for keeping record of precious traditions that have stood the test of time but always feel they could possibly be fleeting. And somehow that jumble of notes became a cohesive book. However, the putting the pieces of the puzzle together was a significant challenge…a full calendar year went by as we faced this challenge.