The Lake

I grew up spending time at my aunt’s cottage on a lake in Michigan, my home state.

That particular lake was named Silver Lake and it was about an hour or so from our house. The cottage itself was built by my grandfather in the early part of the twentieth century. In fact, it was the very first cottage on that lake. My parents spent their honeymoon there.

The family cottage was owned by all six Hill siblings after the death of my grandparents and eventually, my aunt became sole owner. The lake was another world for me, a place to sit on the dock, or sleep on the sleeping porch with the gentle sounds of waves lapping against the shore as my lullaby. It was a place where screen doors slammed, where we played with inner tubes or swam out to the raft. It’s where I learned to water ski. There was a little store just down the dirt road where we would walk to get a cold 7-up and some candy. The adults would play cards at night – usually a spirited game of ’31.’

Very different from my life in suburbia.

It’s no wonder that I’ve always loved lakes and have always wanted to live on a lake. The lake here, Chautauqua Lake, is 17 miles long and 2 miles wide. There are several communities on the lake, one of which is the Chautauqua Institution. On Sunday, I grabbed the opportunity to spend some time there – before the influx of summer visitors that will start on June 22nd.

It’s gorgeous.








You’d better believe I sat on this dock for a while.

I would love nothing more than to wake up each morning and walk down to my very own dock with a cup of coffee. Universe? Are you listening?

And speaking of Michigan, look what I spied in someone’s yard:


Michigan shaped adirondack chairs. Dawn, my fellow Michigander, you need these! My cousin Eileen reads this blog; have you seen these before, Eileen?

Yesterday was a long day. Today will be equally as long. But I’m having a wonderful time working in these surroundings.

Happy Wednesday.


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  1. Vera says

    Your pictures are so beautiful Claudia. And, they make me homesick for summers of my childhood. I grew up spending a month or so each summer in Vermont where a friend of my Mom’s had a camp/cottage on Lake Dunmore (between Middlebury and Rutland) (and, we used to hike up to Silver Lake about 1-2 miles above Lake Dunmore). Sleeping porches, docks, row boats and canoes, dirt roads, Lady Slippers and ferns, produce from local farms, etc. I could spend hours perched on a tree branch over the lake with a book in my hands…or row out to the island and be by myself for hours…or go fishing, etc. Such fond, fond memories. Thank you!

    • Claudia says

      I used to do a lot of reading when I was visiting the lake, Vera. Great memories!

  2. Kathy says

    Lovely lake photos! I also would like to retire to a lake home but I need the sound of loons! I have never heard them first hand, only in the movies. I’m thinking a place like “On Golden Pond” would be just about right!

    • Claudia says

      I think you’d have to pick a lake that is in the north to get loons! I’m not sure if I’ve ever heard them, either!

    • Claudia says

      Wouldn’t they? My cousin now lives up north near Traverse City – I think she needs these!

  3. says

    Claudia, I absolutely love those chairs. My Ted makes Adirondack chairs for gifts. That is one of the wedding gifts we gave our granddaughter . Your lake picture are wonderful and make me wish I had a place of my own. I used to go to Lake Barbee church camp and then a week at Lake Chapman in northern Indiana. It was like being a princess to me. Didn’t have to watch all my brothers and sisters and had fun in the water and sun. Blessings, xoxo,Susie

  4. Eileen says

    I have never seen those chairs before…can’t wait to show them to Woody. Maybe he’ll be motivated to create some. That mitten shows up in the oddest places!
    Your description of the cottage was perfect. I saved the old cottage door and am trying to figure out what to do with it…A potting stand?
    Enjoy your time in that wonderful place. Water is good for your soul.

    • Claudia says

      If Woody wants to create some for my little cottage in NY State, as well, I wouldn’t say no!
      So glad to hear you saved the old cottage door.


  5. nancy says

    Your childhood lake memories brought back some of my Michigan lake memories.
    My grandfather built a log cabin on Big Bass Lake in Michigan, and it was a child’s paradise. We had family reunions there, and the adults had as much fun as the children.
    My grandpa found an old Model A Ford that he turned into a truck, and we kids would pile in the back and the sandy roads, through the woods, would be navigated. Then, he would drive to “The Bowery” a little place that sold gas, snacks, sodas, etc. The owner would see us arrive, and would yell, “Throw out the anchor”! One day, we surprised him and took my grandpa’s boat anchor, attached to a rope, and threw it out of the back of the truck when we arrived. The proprietor loved that!
    Those childhood memories are priceless, aren’t they?

  6. Linda P. says

    I’m catching up and so enjoying your photographs. For a long time, I’ve wished I could be at Chautauqua one summer, and now I’ve there via your observations and photographs, at least.

  7. Chris k in Wisconsin says

    Growing up in Chicago, when I was very young the entire family would rent small cottages on Lake Michigan at the Indiana Dunes. Such fun times! I honestly can barely remember, but the pictures from that long ago time help fill in some of the blanks. When our own kids were little we always tried to fit in a long weekend a few times a year at somewhere along Lake Michigan or Lake Superior. Where you are is beautiful. As hard as the work is, it must be wonderful doing it in such a grand location!!

    • Claudia says

      It is. Now, if I could just get some free time during the rehearsal day! Ah well!

  8. Nancy says

    Claudia, I can almost smell and hear that lake and that air, thanks to your evocative photographs.

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says

    So beautiful..reminds me of all the camping we did when my son was a kid at the lakes in our Pennsylvania State Parks..Such great times we had..

  10. says

    There is a Summer place on the Mississippi, between Alton and Grafton Illinois. There are still private homes there, sort of weekend places.
    Around the turn of the 19th century, well to do St Louis families built homes there, using them as weekend and Summer places.I’m not completely sure, but I believe it had some connection to church. Perhaps Methodist. Anyway, it’s called Chatauqua. I’ve always been fascinated by this compound. Beautiful old homes, visible from The Great River Road that runs along the Mississippi, both sides of the river.

    I am enjoying your photos and stories, Claudia!

    • Claudia says

      Must be part of the same Chautauqua movement from 19th century, Pat. They popped up all over the country.

  11. Janet in Rochester says

    I can completely relate, Claudia. I have great “lake memories” too. Until a month before my 10th birthday, I lived right on the southern shore of Lake Ontario. Our backyard consisted of about 12 feet of land, edged by the concrete breakwater. And our “beach” was only about 8-10 feet wide.. We had SO much fun there. I can remember with complete detail the soothing, “lullaby” sound of the waves coming ashore below the breakwater. And the ripples of light the sun would make on the ceiling and walls of my bedroom. It was so hard to go to sleep when being put to bed at 7:30 on summer evenings.. We were almost always in or near the water, playing. One Winter I remember being able to hike out to the FOURTH sandbar [probably about 100 feet offshore]. It had been a really icy Winter, like this past one, and Dad had assured Mom that the ice was several feet thick so we were allowed to play out there on occasion. Very exciting at the time.

  12. Donnamae says

    First off I love those chairs! They look like they belong at a cottage! I have had several friends over the years who had lake homes/cottages…and I’ve been fortunate to have visited. You are right…there is no better place…unless you are on an ocean! But for us Midwest gals….no better place! Your pics have really been fun to watch. We’ve had tornadoes in the area two days in a row here….lots of wind, rain, and trees down. I’m enjoying your calm lake pictures! 😉

    • Claudia says

      Hope you’re safe and sound, Donna! Lakes for us Midwestern girls, for sure. Don is an ocean guy, since he was raised in San Diego, but he’s acquiring a taste for lakes.

  13. says

    What a beautiful lake! I am fortunate to live in an area with lots of lakes and a big river (Fox River). I’ve always wanted to live right on a body of water – preferably the Pacific Ocean.

    • Claudia says

      I’ve lived near the Pacific Ocean, not right on it….that real estate is very, very expensive!

  14. Melissa T. says

    I have been reading your blog for about two weeks now and love it! I’m from Michigan also. Our favorite spot for vacation is Ludington on Lake Michigan. Your photography is beautiful. Thanks for sharing your blog – I enjoy hearing about your creative adventures at home and in your work. (Until I watched Smash, I never knew about the kind of work you do. ) Thanks!

  15. Trudy Mintun says

    Oh my but you brought back memories! We didn’t have a sleeping porch, in fact we didn’t even have a porch. But as kids we would take old Army blankets and clothespins and pin them to the clothes line to make over night tents. I can’t imagine sleeping on the ground now but we had a grand time then.
    One of my best memories was going to the lake. My uncle, my aunt, my cousin, my brother, my mom, me, lawn chairs, coolers, picnic baskets, fishing poles ( the big can poles), and tackle boxes would all cram into a little green VW bug. We would go for the day to a lake that was about 1 1/2 hours away. It was called Limestone. I have a picture of all of this, but you will have to use your imagination to see us all in this little car.
    I love the summer, and lake memories. The lake is still there of course, but the resort is no longer, and they don’t do boats for the day, but one of the original owners still lives there, and we do our best to go visit when we can.
    Thank you Claudia,

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