Chetek, Wisconsin

Photo: Canoe Bay
Photo: Canoe Bay

It’s September. Many people are already talking about apple picking and pumpkin beer. But it’s warm–actually, hot–outside. Which means you don’t have to plan a fall foliage trip yet. Plus most summer vacations are over, and children–and their teachers–are back in school. So now is the time to hang out by the lake and enjoy the sunshine. In peace.

Chetek, Wisconsin is an easy drive from Minneapolis, or even Chicago. But the unspoiled, secluded 300 acres of Canoe Bay feel worlds away from any city. Spend the day doing nothing. Well, almost nothing. Read that book–the one you meant to read throughout August–from the deck of your cottage. Or just stare out at Lake Wahdoon. Eventually, you’ll drift into a nap. Don’t worry, you’ll wake up when a picnic lunch is delivered. You can eat in your cottage, or hike through the hardwood forest to find a romantic spot. Two young deer emerge from the woods while you’re eating. They’re just as surprised to see you as you are to see them.

Return to the lake for a swim before dinner. The clear water, which was chilly when you arrived, has warmed throughout the day. Wander through the garden of heirloom vegetables on your way to shower. Try to figure out what will be part of your meal this evening. You’ll be surprised, regardless of your guess. Carrot soup with cumin. Cider-glazed salmon. And an aged bottle of Merlot from the wine cellar. No one said you had to rough it at the lake.

Photo: Canoe Bay
Photo: Canoe Bay

Your cottage isn’t very rough either. A stone fireplace, a whirlpool for two, and heated floors–even if you really don’t need them yet–make for a cozy evening. And a lazy morning. It’s a good thing breakfast is also delivered, or you probably would have missed it. But once the coffee kicks in, go fishing for largemouth bass. Canoe to the even quieter end of the lake. Or find another book in the library. You read the first one a lot faster than you expected.

It’s a long winter, so hang on to the summer as long as possible. No matter what date is on the calendar.


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