Friday, March 25, 2011


Every year the three of us look forward to our October vacation. Our destination is never a question; nothing to ponder, consider or mull over. We always head to the beach. (In the winter I think our blood somehow begins to crave a certain synchronicity with the waves.) Over the years we have stayed in a variety of places, some small hotels and a few cozy cottages. I have often wondered what it would be like to take the very best parts of each and create something new. The rooftop patio of one, the loft another, the beautiful surroundings of a third, the shutters and windowboxes of yet another, and lastly, the proximity to the beach from an especially lovely house. If I could, I would take all the pieces and, like the LEGOs that I still find strewn and scattered about the rooms here, build a respite where we could retreat in complete comfort. Often.

What would we keep in our house by the sea? Books and bicycles, picnic baskets and tea. Everything would have a use and a place where we could find it. Nooks and crannies filled with everything one would need for a day at the beach. Though having your own seaside spot does take away from the charm of a borrowed cottage. Vacationing in someone else’s home offers the chance to poke about and explore; treasures to be found, unfamiliar bookshelves to be browsed. A climbing of the stairs to the great unknown, pushing open the door to discover what lies beyond.

Either way, a house of my own, a few rooms borrowed for the weekend, or even a shelter of sticks and tarp--as long as the sea is nearby, then it’s absolutely perfect.

You are all invited to a housewarming party at my cottage on the beach. I don't know which beach yet. But there will be porches with rocking chairs, benches in herb gardens, a volleyball net for those of you who feel the need to express yourself physically, a fire pit for roasting marshmallows and small children, and a bar. And a Great Room with lots of speakers and bookshelves, with a hardwood floor on which we are going to dance to old Billy Joel and maybe some bluegrass. I'll make appetizers, most of them with fresh ginger, crab meat and watercress, and my mom will make quiche, and M will pass out headlamps for people who want to go skinny dipping after dark. You'll need the headlamps in order not to walk into one of the rose bushes lining the sand path to the private beach. And to navigate the leaning wooden stairs that traverse the delicate dune. Once you've finished with your swim - all dripping and giggly and slightly bashful but mostly proud that you were naked! in the water! with other people nearby! at your age! - come back to the cottage and we'll sip cinnamon coffee and tell stories about relatives who are now dead and so won't get mad. It will be a night of luminous fun. The kind of night we'll try to recreate a year later, but it will rain, and someone will have forgotten the recipe for sangria, and no one will even suggest skinny dipping, and the ginger will be powered instead of fresh. But the first party, that one - be sure to come. I will let you know as soon as I've found a cottage on the beach that I can afford. It might be a few (dozen) years, but I'll send an invite. Bring a friend. Children welcome.


  1. Aw Andi - I've had that same fantasy! Each place I've lived or stayed at has some feature I want. A composite house would be perfect. Where is your favorite beach? October?
    Beth- that's brave! I won't forget the invite....
    I adoreVt , it's home but the ocean at least once a year is essential. I know a beach in Maine that is heaven!

  2. I want an invite! Try to find the cottage at Lake Michigan in the funky rundown part of South Haven. October would be fine, fewer people about and who cares about swimming among the alewives anyway? Beach fires would be less noticed by the beach patrol, and the waves would be fierce. And the skinny dipping could happen but only feet would have to get wet and there would be piles of blankets to wrap up in!

  3. That party -- that first one -- it will be awesomely spectacularly unforgettable. I know it.