Ringing in Summer

Every time his grandfather would ring the dinner bell, off the boy ran to whatever delicious meal Grandma may have cooked up that evening. He’d scurry past bobbing sailboats and gliding kayaks, fishing dories, high cattails, and rickety docks, his sneakers squishing into wet sand as he wondered what dinner would be. I could never believe how obedient our sons’ playmate and cottage neighbor was to the sound of the bell until one day he told me the faster he arrived home and ate dinner, the faster he could get back to lakeside fun. Smart!

I started thinking it would be a good idea to get my own dinner bell so that food didn’t get cold, or I didn’t have to go out looking for my boys come dinnertime. They’d most likely be who knows where on those summer evenings at our cottage on a pretty northern Michigan lake. It’s difficult to lure kids away from waterside tag games, cannon-balling off the dock, and looking for minnows.

But it’s not just kids who are charmed by a body of water. Whether it’s a lake, a river, a pond, an ocean, or a stream, water has some sort of siren-like qualities.

According to the U.S. Travel Association, beaches fall into the top five must-haves when travelers select their vacation  destinations. Another statistic reveals that a third of all Americans visit coastal areas each year.

Why? Wallace J. Nichols, a marine biologist, hit the dock nail on the head when he wrote Blue Mind: The surprising science that shows how being near, in, on, or under water can make you happier, healthier, more connected and better at what you do (Little, Brown and Company). He points out that when we step away from our high-stress lives and go waterside, a shift occurs. Our brains and bodies transform as we relax. Water, in fact, changes the quality of our thoughts.

Whether you have a waterside home or not, don’t forget that the water in your home — the water that streams forth from your showerhead, the water that cascades from a pretty faucet into your bathtub or onto your fruits and vegetables, the water that sprinkles your lawn — all can, and should, inspire mindfulness. Pay attention to the way the water makes you feel.

The night before writing this letter, I sank into a steaming-hot bath filled with lavender salts following a few days in the ER and hospital “observation” as a companion for a loved one; suffice it to say that soak replenished me — mind, body, and spirit! The splashy, scintillating tonic opened my imagination as I began to think about how I’d soon be at our cottage on the lake once again — far, far, from the not-so-fun ER experience.

Whether you’re diving in, gliding atop, or sitting on the shore, making the most of water can have powerful effects. I remember how I’d never seen my mother-in-law more relaxed in all the years I knew her than when she sat at the edge of our lake in a chair, or on the dock with her pant legs rolled up and just her feet in the water.

One of the only things that would pull her away was the sound of a ringing dinner bell. Mine! (Yes, I eventually purchased my own bell at a little antiques shop. Made of iron and boasting a colorful rooster motif, it hangs near the kitchen window.) I open the window, ring the bell, and they all come running. The quicker they eat, the quicker they can get back to waterside fun.


In the April/May 2016 Design Awards issue, design credit for the photo on page 16 should go to Jacob & Co. Also, on page 93, the photo for third-place winner Martini Samartino Design Group, with Maplewood Homes, should be the one shown below.


On page 124, the photo for third-place winner Main Street Design Build should be the one shown below.


In Memoriam

Hour Media and Detroit Home express condolences to the family and friends of Daniel Clancy, ASID, who died this past spring following an altercation at his home in Grosse Pointe Park. A Perlmutter-Freiwald associate, Clancy was known for his impeccable work. The design community and others who knew him will certainly miss Clancy and his creativity.