Laura brings us this month’s post.

As I write, I’m sitting on the deck, bathed in sunshine. The temperature is so perfectly comfortable that it is, as my sister says, practically a non-temperature. We don’t feel hot or cold or anything other than content.

Later we’ll go across the street to the state park, or maybe walk over to Round Lake, one of the five zillion or so unremarkable small inland lakes in Michigan – except that this one is remarkable to us because we’ve come to it nearly every summer for the last twenty years—almost every summer of our lives. We’ve swum across it and learned to water-ski on it.

We are in Petoskey: now it is properly summertime.

I’m sure everyone has particular summer traditions. We probably have other traditions too that I’m less conscious of as traditions—but none are as dear to me as the annual pilgrimage to our friends’ condo in Petoskey, Michigan.

As soon as we start the trek north from Grand Rapids on 131 I already feel like I’m on vacation. Once we arrive and pull into the complex we encounter what were once speed bumps and are now strange sorts of speed declivities. Many years ago we renamed them “spmub” (“bumps” backward—singular “pmub”). Even something as small as this reminds us of how very familiar this place is and how well we know it.

The condo smells as comfortingly familiar as our own homes. It’s just our family this week, but in a couple weeks we’ll be back with our friends and whoever else happens to be there. (One never knows who might show up at the condo; our friends are unfailingly generous and seem to invite everyone they know to join them.) We lovingly refer to our time with everyone at the condo as our experience with the Cambodian lifestyle. One year there were seventeen people stuffed into the three bedrooms. Three people slept on the porch. But we know that whenever we arrive our friends will be genuinely delighted to see us. The feeling will be mutual.

We have to make our way over to Harbor Springs anytime we come here, the small community on Lake Michigan just north of us. We’ll walk around the marina and watch the sailboats tootling around the bay. We’ll get ice cream from Kilwin’s and taste all the jams at American Spoon.

Sunday morning we’ll attend church at Bay View. (It is aptly named. I love worshipping in beautiful places.) The organist there has remained constant since I was a newborn.

Of course, anytime we wish to go anywhere, there has to be a lot of fuss involved with so many people to corral. There will be much indecision. Some confusion. At least two people will be very nearly out the door and then remember something and have to go back. The dogs will have to be taken out one more time before we leave. “Are we ready? Let’s go” will be repeated numerous times with increasing impatience.

We will take time at some point while we’re here for waterskiing or jetskiing or kayaking or biking or tubing or some combination of those things. Paul (the paterfamilias of our friends here) will try to recruit as many as he can for Black Bear, the annual early morning half-mile swim.

Traditions ground us. They are comforting and familiar and it is good to have some things in life that remain constant.

On Sunday morning after church, our friends will likely ask us how long we’re staying before we head home and get ready for a new week. No matter what answer we give, they will almost certainly try to convince us to stay longer.

As beautiful and familiar as Petoskey is, this is what really grounds us here. The friendship with people who have known us all our lives and still love us so well. The kindness and generosity and laughter we know we can count on every year.

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