Our family reunites annually at the family cottage on Lily Bay, close to Sturgeon Bay. We enjoy seeing the ‘cottage’ almost as much as seeing our family. Built in the 1920s, it has been in my father’s family for over 60 years. We spent all of our summer vacations there: fishing, playing cards, picking cherries, hiking near Cave Point and ‘going up the peninsula’ to get ice cream at Wilson’s. And every year there is a visit to “The Farm.” We still do much of the same, but now my sons belong to the next generation that’s mastered sandcastle building!
Our family is now somewhat scattered. I live in San Francisco, my sister and brother live in Indianapolis and Madison respectively. With our new spouses, we are bringing new traditions to our family. When we gather at the cottage now, we are each responsible for one evening meal. With the help of my Chinese husband, we
made hand-rolled egg rolls, fried rice, and crab dumplings. My sister’s husband brought some Italian heritage to our family with his mother’s homemade meatballs and sauce. My brother is passionate about cooking and wine. His entrées include roast pork with Door County cherry sauce. Yum, it just melted in your mouth. Mom and Dad kept it simple with succulent steaks and baked potatoes.
We also invite our former exchange student, Henriette, from Denmark. Our ethnic taste buds got a real treat when she brought along a friend who is originally from Zimbabwe. His menu was a traditional meal of sautéed beef, sausage and vegetables. Using a thick white corn polenta as a ‘spoon’, you scoop or grasp the meat and vegetables. It was a tasty and fun culinary experience.
Simplicity is the key at the cottage. Leaving the hectic pace of California, I’m teaching my sons and my husband all the fun things you can do without having to pay for them. Some of our favorite pastimes are: walks on the beach, watching the meteor showers in August, catching tadpoles in Lily Bay Creek, swimming in Lake Michigan, baking pies, foot massages and ‘happy’ hours on the porch overlooking the lake. Cards and games are a big part of our evenings and rainy days: rummy, crazy 8s, chess. You name it, it always reminds me of home!
The list could go on and on. As adults, we’ve come to realize what a great thing we have in our family cottage. As a Californian, I’ve learned to realize what a great place the Midwest is. Where in California can you play golf for less than thirty dollars?
Door County is truly a priceless place. I plan to return to Wisconsin with my family every summer to share with them a place that will always be a memory maker.
–By Jackie Kwas Choy