Whether you’ve been going to the same family retreat since before you could walk, or taking steps toward building your first home away from home and seeking options in-between, welcome to BLUE’s special COTTAGES edition!
There’s a lot to discover about this hot Michigan topic, and to explore before uncovering what slice of cottage life is right if you weren’t born rooted by tradition to a one time-honored place.
Pioneers amidst the Great Depression, photographer Cybelle Codish’s great uncles acquired a small plot of land off Thunder Bay in 1933. From trees cut on-site, they built their family’s legacy by hand, a one-room cabin in Alpena’s backwoods that doesn’t boast a bit of flair, but heralds flavors fit for a king.
“We know these dishes by heart,” notes Cybelle of family recipes she shares on page 37. “They are as much a part of our cabin experience as the sunrise.”
Keasha Palmer’s grandfather bought their family’s Highland Park cottage (fully furnished on Lake Michigan, for $750) during the same era. “It was my very first home — I went there right from St. Mary’s Hospital as a week-old baby,” says Keasha, who with her three brothers and six cousins nearby spent every childhood summer here.
While BLUE’s Lake Stories contributor still holds those after-dinner swims, early morning foghorns and 10-cent cones from the Bil-Mar close (page 30), Michigan-based veterans of custom cottage work featured throughout this issue showcase spaces tailored for new traditions for generations to come. The design, craftsmanship and details both stand-out and subtle highlighted in these getaway kitchens, bedrooms, great rooms, porches and outdoor gathering areas express the depth of understanding — and shared personal passion — these professionals have for Michigan cottage living.
But you don’t need to build or buy a cottage of your own to savor cottage life.
From simple to spectacular, smack in the action or tucked in woods, the Great Lakes State offers a buffet of private getaway options. Peruse intriguing rentals online through agencies including Lake Michigan Cottages (page 32), or find your own personal oasis through sites like vrbo.com (page 28). Turn the clock back at historic cottage resorts like Chimney Corners (page 26), or enjoy modern cottage amenities at four-season properties such as Crystal Mountain (page 16). Or embark on a more rustic getaway adventure: State-owned cabins hidden out of sight can be reserved for a sure-bet time of your life (page 88).
“I’d rather be shut up in a very modest cottage with my books, my family and few old friends, dining on simple bacon, and letting the world roll on as it liked,” Thomas Jefferson once said, “than to occupy the most splendid post, which any human power can give.”
Here’s to cottage days ahead.
With heartfelt thanks for reading, Lisa M. Jensen, Editor, Michigan BLUE Magazine.
Photography Courtesy Lake Michigan Cottages/Matt Marsman