The peaceful surroundings of Northern Wisconsin
|It was mid June. A Tuesday, 2009. The sun was warm, shining bright. Big white clouds filled the sky as a cool breeze kissed both of my cheeks. If only things were this peaceful outside of my favorite wicker rocking chair. Well, why not. It's not like I have much to stick around for anyway. On Thursday, I decided to call my Aunt Mary. She lives in California, but a few years ago her and my uncle bought a lake front cottage in Chetek, Wisconsin. Located on the 'no wake zone' of the lake, it was quiet and peaceful. The perfect escape.
My parents have already made their way to the small town of Chetek, but this was my first appearance. I couldn't wait to spend a week out on the lake with Auntie Mary. She was my favorite of Mom's two older sisters. She looked more like my mom than my other aunt, and acted just like me- free spirited and a bit outspoken. The two of us alone together with no schedule and no one to answer to, it could be interesting.
Right away Friday morning, I packed my bags, loaded the car, and set out on the 4 hour drive alone. With my Windows down and music turned up too loud, I couldn't wipe the cheesy smile off of my face as I passed a sign saying 'Welcome to Chetek!' When Aunt Mary said small town, she wasn't kidding. The drive on Main Street through downtown Chetek took me no longer than 45 seconds. and like most streets running through small downtown areas in Wisconsin, the majority of the buildings were bars. Mixed among them were Bob's Grill, which was known for their mouth-watering Breakfast foods, an old traditional drive-in ice cream and burger joint, and a few antique shops. The best though, was the local coffee shop called 'Hope &Anchor.' I wanted a caramel machiatto so badly, but I knew Aunt Mary, being a huge coffee addict as well, would want to grab one with me later and I decided to keep driving.
The cottage was only 2 minutes from downtown, and the short drive provided such a welcoming view. Tall, fully blossomed trees hovered the road leading to my destination. I wasn't surprised to see Gilligan's, yet another bar on the corner at my turn, just 500 yards from Aunt Mary's back door. I'm sure my dad had a hayday with that one while he was here. Aunt Mary welcomed me with a warm hug and a cold beer.she probably heard me screaming for one in that last hour stretch behind the wheel. I barely cracked it open before she whisked me inside, anxious to give me a tour.
From the outside, it was tan, with hints of red throughout the brick. Her and my uncle had splurged with the red metal roof, but it wouldn't have looked as great without it. Immediately walking inside, the first thing I noticed hanging on the wall was my grandpa's old German styled hat, with his drinking pin still in the same place he had left it. It was hard not to noticed Aunt Mary's antique shop 'finds' that decorated her entire cottage. She had a nack for that kind of thing- always finding the best household decorations and furniture that held the most unique character.
There were 3 bedrooms. Well, 2 actually but the 3rd she said was converted into an extra. The 1st one she showed me had a fisherman's theme. There were bunk beds draped with fannel blankets, fish nets and other decorations scattering the wall. The inside of the door was painted a deep red hue which gave an interesting and warm feel to the room. Passing through the kitchen, the dining and living rooms were simple. Clean cut lines were created by her choice of table and chairs, as well as the 2 small sofas not too far away in the adjacent room. The walls were painted a pastel yellow which helped make the small rooms feel bigger, yet still cozy. She refused to show me her bedroom, claiming the bed wasn't made or something silly like that. I know she's a total clean freak, so I didn't argue.
The final room she showed me was perfect. It had previously been a porch, but when remodeling they decided they could use the extra sleeping space. 'I thought of you when we decided to make this into a bedroom, knowing you would love the Windows," she said. She nailed it. The room was completely surrounded by windows. Large windows that came down and alined perfectly with the height of the bed. The quilt that hovered the mattress was a combination of lavender, pink, and yellow colors- topped with a brighter, contrasting colored quilt, folded neatly at the foot end of the bed. The red, yellow, and purple antique pillows, placed randomly at the head end, added just the right touch.
I set my bags down and flopped on my stomach onto the bed. It was a little stiff, but comfy. I pulled my head up to scan the horizon. And there I saw it. The place I would be lounging during my stay here. The sun was beginning to set, so I immediately jumped up from the bed and made my way outside to the place I had spotted just a minute earlier. There between two large oak trees was the best looking hammock I'd ever seen. I mean, it was just your average everyday, white, thick netted hammock, but this one was different. I think it was its placement that I found so perfect.
The large trees supporting either side were close together, where the surrounding trees scattered unevenly across the land. It seemed like they were planted specifically for holding that hammock, though they had matured way before cottages even began to develop by this lake. The view is what got me. Carefully placed at the front left side of Aunt Mary's lot, the hammock was in the one spot where I could see everything- the sun's reflection on the water as it rose from the east and set in the west. I could see the moon and the trail of light it seemed to lead right to me. I could see the approaching boats coming from either side of the lake, continuing to watch as they creepers through the no wake zone that surrounded this part of the lake. I could watch people come and go from Gilligan's Bar at the far right side of my view.
But it was at that moment, the first moment I leaned back in that hammock, with my feet up, hands behind my head, watching the sun set that I knew this would forever be my favorite place. I wasn't surprised when Aunt Mary told me that my mom had found this to be her favorite place too, while visiting earlier that summer. I guess I might have to fight her for it when we come back here together. But right now, I am here. And here is good.