When I mentioned that I was going on vacation to our cottage on Lake Michigan, someone asked how I could call it vacation since I’ve been retired since November. It’s an interesting question, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am enjoying a vacation.

Here on the Old Mission Peninsula, the rhythm of my retirement days has been completely replaced by the rhythm of sun, waves, and wind. Sunrise and sunset define the length of my day. Each starts with a walk through the woods with my dog, chasing off the morning chill of our unheated cottage. We look for deer tracks and listen for birds. Then there is a leisurely breakfast with a good book, followed by a few hours of chores. (Vacation or no, there is always mouse-proofing and staining to do.)

The afternoon is spent on the beach or the water. Grand Traverse Bay is famous for its Petoskey stones and a new crop is washed ashore each spring. We happily spend time picking up stones, searching for fossils and anything out of the ordinary. I muse on large lake limnology while absently focusing on the colors of the bay – lighter yellow gold in the shallows near shore, turquoise and then blue in the deeper waters, and finally purple blue over the edge of a great submerged sand dune that slopes nearly 400 feet down in the middle of the bay. (It’s like Sleeping Bear Dunes, but fully submersed.) Sitting in my kayak on the edge of purple water, watching the dune fade out of sight into darkness, I see little but sandy bottom and try not to let that Jaws theme music spook me too much.

There’s more reading and walking before dinner, then a quiet evening on the deck that almost always ends with our ritual of watching the sun set. Sometimes there is not much to see, but other times the skyline is a blaze of red, orange, and gold. If the winds are calm, we enjoy the view from a canoe. Being on the western edge of the Eastern Time zone, it’s light until 10pm or later so I usually call it a day after the sun goes down.  Sounds like vacation to me!

Sunset canoe , Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan (Photo: A. Shambaugh)