Savor Winter’s Last ‘Grasp’ and Anticipate a Return to the Lake

Photography by Brad Reed

It’s the season for the mind’s escape to the vast blue waters and still inland lakes that beckon more mightily than winter’s grip. February/March is the time to celebrate the midway mark to the seasonal “summer” return to lakes, homes, cottages and marinas across this Great Lakes State.

’Tis the season of new plans for cottage renovations, labors of love like landscaping and anticipation of seeing seasonal neighbors in lake communities.

BLUE magazine endeavors to take readers back to the lake in this annual Cottages issue.

“The cottage is a treasured retreat, a place to relax, escape from the pressures of everyday life, and enjoy the outdoors and time with family,” writes Vintage Views columnists M. Christine Byron & Thomas R. Wilson. The couple offers rare photos of humble cottages from a bygone era, in certain contrast to the luxurious homes in Michigan’s lakeshore regions today.

If cottage plans include updates to interior décor, consider the advice from designers who suggest new takes on quintessential cottage stripes that enhance visual appeal — whether vertical, horizontal or chevron. Note, too, the story highlighting updated water elements to consider indoors and out as a way to add ambience, value and create an escape at a vacation or year-round home.

Michigan’s fame as the automotive capital of the world doesn’t overshadow its status as a center of furniture design and manufacturing. One example is the Lloyd Flanders furniture company, which first patented a machine to weave materials in the Victorian era. Ultimately, the company’s fame came from the wicker furniture it created then and today at its Menominee plant, still considered construction central. The story notes, “Handcrafted is not a loosely used word when referring to the process. One lounge chair is typically touched by a dozen employees during the weeklong process it takes to make it.”

Also in this issue, discover ways to attract birds to your yard, keep invasive aquatic plants from spreading, and read about two artists living their dream — waterfowl artist Chris Smith and Petoskey stone artist Randall Libby — along with winning contests and creating commission pieces for cottage and cabin owners. The photo essay, “Protected Class,” captures some of the state’s most imperiled birds, butterflies and plant species.

With such sweet images of spring’s anticipation and new beginnings, I note that, for anyone venturing out to the cottage for a check on “things,” there remains much to be enjoyed in the closing days of winter.

Take a cue from just below the water’s surface where steelhead spawning season is evident even before the jump into spring. According to BLUE’s Top 5 columnist, Bob Gwizdz, the fish begin showing up in the river many months before they take to the gravel. “Peak numbers occur in the rivers in late February to April, when snow melt increases the flows in streams and stimulates the upstream migration.” Novice anglers can participate during the state’s free fishing weekend.

The best of this season is evident in Michigan’s maple syrup, tapped straight from a tree, direct from the source. The Excursions listing offers several opportunities to participate in Michigan’s maple syrup harvesting, and those who want to channel additional images of spring should note the dates of the state’s several cottage, boat, home and golf shows.

Anticipation runs high this time of year — the midmark toward summer.

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