It came to him as ideas often come to Rick -- on the seat of a bicycle. One of his favorite 100-mile stints at the lake is to Torch Lake. Fifty over, fifty back.
It's a spot that is meaningful for him, because in the long-ago, his mother's family had a cottage there. During a half-way point in his ride, he stopped by and the people there directed him to the owner's place down the road. She was a distant cousin. After a lovely chat, he hopped back on the bike to head home.
On the way he thought, "What if... what if we could get my brothers and cousins to give a Christmas gift to my mom, aunt and uncle that was a week together at Minisa."
It wasn't as easy a project as it might seem. Rick didn't know all the cousins on his mom's side as well as those on his dad's and as many families are today, they were spread throughout the country.
Some didn't want to join in, but most did and on Christmas Day all the cousins joined in a conference call with the three senior siblings inviting them to the lake!
As some things go, it wasn't clear right off the bat if all really wanted to go. Reconnections after a long period apart aren't always the easiest thing. But in the end, they gathered at Minisa for a week to remember.
Rick stayed north, going back and forth to Minisa from the lake until he finally just found a bed and stayed. Other cousins rented a cottage down the road and everyone would gather for fun in the sun and meals on the porch. I came on the weekends.
Part of what made Minisa special was the cabin itself. It was a genuine log cabin, built from the forests of Bellaire, Michigan in the early 1900s.
The fireplace was heavy stone, and the living room was filled with photos and memorabilia that would make an Antiques Roadshow junkie go crazy!
The bedrooms had beautiful quilts. Most faced Torch Lake and when the windows were open, a lovely breeze came through.
There were so many wonderful touches. Here are a few. The bathroom...
Reading materials in the rooms...
And much more.
It was interesting, coming the first day, then the second weekend. People who barely knew one another, despite the bloodlines, were at first a bit tentative. Glad to be together, glad to meet new family, but a tad more formal.
By the second weekend, all were old friends with that familiarity that only spending extended time together can bring. Those times were enhanced by long talks, dips in the lake, games...
...and fabulous meals that seemed to appear with relative ease.
Rick made his "best pancakes in the world"...
...and I loved the kitchen with its log walls and tall, rustic cabinets.
There was time for contemplation...
...and time to hunt for Petoskey stones.
Lots of photos were taken -- we all had family portraits!
The sunsets were dramatic and always drew an audience.
Even the trees seemed to pose.
There were campfires...
...photo and family memorabilia sharing...
For Rick's Aunt Lou, a first-time visit with her new baby grandson.
For Uncle Jim and Becky, a return to the spot they spent their honeymoon.
For Rick's mom, Kitty, time with all her boys and many of their children.
It was a time to revel in the beauty of nature...
...the magic of family connection...
...and the steadfastness of tradition.
For everyone, it was a time of love, sharing and family. With the parents, all of whom have health challenges of one sort or another, it was a reunion at a critical time, when all could enjoy the time together at a beautiful place.
To distant cousin Mary, who now owns Minisa and made it available, a big debt of thanks. Something tells me that we may return again!