Wit’s End, part 1

Sign_2Five years ago this month I found myself there. At my wit’s end. I had just returned from a week long dive trip to Honduras with the Snarl. Our adventure trip together was the high point of each year for me; never has there been a better travel companion. She is full of energy and curiosity, comfortable with 4 languages, sleeps anywhere and eats anything. We had traveled to Alaska, Belize, Mexico and tiny islands in the Caribbean- always to places off the beaten track, always roughing it, always on a dime.  But after this voyage, rather than reveling in the memories, I crashed- with the realization that she would soon leave home to explore the world on her own. So while she bounced out for a happy reunion with friends I was laid out on the sofa, immobilized with an impending sense of doom, watching Canadian Women’s Curling. Okay, that’s a little dramatic but I had, indeed, reached an impasse of sorts. I’d been single and focused on raising the children for more than a dozen years. I was happy in my career and with my friends, all of whom were married. I had managed to save a middling amount towards retirement but the market was slumping miserably and my financial security was draining away.

So it was right around then that I decided to invest in real estate. I thought that lakefront property, no matter how modest, would surely do better than Dow-Jones and I would have the pleasure of a weekend getaway at the same time. I began a dedicated search for a small cottage.

Ann Arbor is in the Huron River watershed and this river feeds dozens of small lakes within an hour of town. All of these lakes are packed, cheek to jowl, with summer cottages. Many of them are aging, tumble down, moldy, grossly overpriced and built on postage stamp lots. Between the early spring and late summer I looked at over 140 cottages. I was on a mission. Every Friday afternoon and all day Saturday I cracked the whip over my harried realtor; I’m certain we put 4,000 miles on her car, all in 50 miles sprints. Over that time I found three that I liked but there was no land! None.These cottages were on such small lots that if either the well or the septic field failed there wasn’t enough space, under new DEQ guidelines, to replace them.

One day in late August the realtor called and said she had gotten wind of a small out of the way place on a tiny private lake off in a new direction. We drove out northwest of town and looked around the outside. I was in love. She said I should have my bid on the table, at full price, prior to the listing and I did. It was a non-contingent offer and I was confident- until another person bid well over the asking price that same morning. Two weeks would pass when I had resigned myself to giving up for the year before the other offer failed and they came back to me.

On Sept. 10th, 2001 I had my life savings drawn into a cashier’s check and closed on Wit’s End. I didn’t take possession until the weekend of my birthday in October and by then the world had changed.All of the women from BCMA (Book Club, My Ass) came out that weekend and, as only true friends would, they scrubbed appliances, toilet, floors and windows. And then we had a giant bonfire and the best potluck ever and Wit’s End became my home away from home.

(Tomorrow I’m going to post my "watershed meme." Wit’s End is actually a hop, skip and jump into, not the Huron River watershed, but the Grand River watershed- which flows to the west and that most wonderful of Great Lakes, Lake Michigan. And my little speck of the world holds a unique and important distinction in that watershed. Can you guess what it is?)Wits_end_2

12 responses to “Wit’s End, part 1

  1. That is an absolutely beautiful piece of the earth. I have no idea what the watershed distinction is, but I am thrilled to see the place you chose to stake your claim. This is such wonderful storytelling, Vicki. Quite compelling to see how we each lived our personal lives written on the huge backdrop of history those few years ago.

  2. I’m stumped….you could be the high point….or you might be on some kind of divide where the watersheds diverge…hmmmm, or maybe…your lake is the secret source of water that fills Lake Michigan?
    Like I said, I’m stumped.

    That is one great looking lake cottage and I know the “she’s growing up and going to leave” fear…feeling it real bad this year.

  3. Lovely post. Lovely getaway.

  4. What a lovely setting, Vicki. No wonder you love it so much. I have no idea what your distinction is – but I am sure it is well-deserved.

    Does it have anything to do with the basketball goal??…….LOL

  5. I may not have the same function in mind that you do, but if you are in the watershed of a river, besides being a great place to observe wildlife – spawning fish and feeding cranes, I would imagine that your large property might function within the flood plane as a big ass sponge.

  6. Well I’m glad I’m not the only one who hasn’t got a clue! 🙂

  7. That was a beautiful post Vicki. I truly believe that places have a way of finding you, and not you it… that’s what happened with my parents.

  8. Let’s see: Your house is the only one on the lake that has never been flooded. Or, your house is the only one on the lake that HAS been flooded.

  9. You are the source of all things wonderful, Vicki! And, I love Meeta’s sentiment! Being a Spartan has been good for her, methinks.

  10. Sometimes I think I’ve been at my “Wits End” so long that it seems like home now, I don’t know how to begin to get back. Knowing nothing about watersheds, I have no clue. Please do tell.

  11. I love how Bonnie has taken this moment to use my new status as reason for my sentiment being good 🙂

    Bonnie, once a wolverine always a wolverine!!! 🙂

    Hee. This is why I love bonnie.

  12. I love this tale of finding your place. I’m sure we did much the same dashing about looking at land before we found Roundrock too. Part of the fun was in the finding.

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