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By Larry Schrader
News, Views and Comments from a South Bass Cottager…
Emma, my favorite granddaughter, has always loved my stories. Ever since she was a little girl, she delighted in Papop’s tales from the past. Even when she was just a baby, she would stare up at me as I held her in my arms, her blue eyes sparkling as she took in every last word.
However, as Emma has grown older, taller than Grammy now, long legs, like a grasshopper; I think she is twelve now, thirteen? I don’t know, maybe fourteen or sixteen, twenty? … whatever … although she still begs for a bedtime story, she has made it clear, she no longer likes the stories that include a fairy princess.
“Papop, there is no such thing as a fairy princess, especially those that grant magical wishes like your made-up stories.”
“But Emma, it’s true, just like Santa Clause, the spirit of Christmas, the magic is real, you need to believe! The magic is there, inside, inside all of us, in your heart – the magic that can make any dream come true.”
“No thank you, Papop – no fairy princesses!”
And so, Emma and the non-believers like her, you may turn the page; for those who still believe in life’s magic – fairies, Santa, the magic inside, in the world – please join Virginia and I, and read on:
There I was, enjoying a cottage afternoon in my usual spot, in the shade of the big oak, comfortable in the old green chair by the lake, taking in the day, lost in the sunshine and a warm breeze. Suddenly, there was a flash of light, and before me stood a shimmering fairy princess. She was tall and slender with long, flowing blond hair that fell softly on her shoulders. Her blue eyes sparkled as she spoke, “Hello Larry, don’t be afraid, I’m here today to grant you a special wish. We all know how much you love cottage life; in fact, over all these years, you have become something of an expert. You write about it, you genuinely embrace the simple things, natures beauty, the wonder that surrounds us, all the special things about cottage life here on South Bass island. But Larry, you’ve cobbled away at this little cottage for 27 years; certainly it is so much more, much nicer than it was when you bought it; but all of us in fairyland think you deserve more, the very best! You’re getting old, too old to take on all those projects that remain on your never-ending list. We want you to have something bigger, better. The island is full of beautiful properties; meticulously restored cottages, grand estates, sprawling new homes – pick any of them, from anywhere on the Island, and with a gentle wave of my magic wand, it’s yours!”
“What? You must be kidding! Is this a dream? This can’t be real!”
“Larry, it is true! We think you deserve the best – not that tiny, cramped old thing; so close to the noisy street, on that little lot; that tiny kitchen and even smaller bedrooms. Tell me Larry, what would you like? Pick any other place on the Island!”
“Oh, I don’t know. I have everything I need, I like it here. I like cobbling around, repairing, fixing, a little remodeling. I look forward to it; it doesn’t even feel like work, just part of cottage life.”
“Come on, how about something with some land, acreage; you can have a garden, even grapes, a vineyard, room for the grandchildren to play, peace, solitude? No tour trains or traffic, none of that Summer chaos.”
“I find plenty of peace here, under the oak, close to the rocky shore. And all the action on West Shore is a pleasant distraction, a chance to see friends, neighbors, the passing parade.”
“How about something a little larger, on the water, trees, land – you can have your own dock and a boat. Two boats if you want! Take your pick.”
“You know how I love those West Shore sunsets, the views, the passing boats.”
“Well then, there are plenty of places on the West Shore that are nicer than yours – huge, year-round homes; big lots and garages; plenty of room for parking, gardens, a workshop, whatever.”
“I don’t know, there is so much about this place that is close to me: See those steps, I built them; and the sun porch, all those windows – I put a lot of time into that. Even the addition upstairs, I remember helping Greg and Walt lift the first wall in place on a cold afternoon in March. And the beam where I took down a wall, Robin, Greg, Steve – they were all there to help me lift it in place. And all the little projects over the years – I just look around, surrounded by memories. The quirky tile floor, that goofy kitchen – it’s not the best, but it’s mine.”
“Larry, stop! Don’t be so sentimental!” The little fairy was getting frustrated with me. “How about this, you can not turn this place down. I’m sure you know about it, that huge new house that was completed earlier this year– the garage is bigger than your whole cottage! The end of a quiet street, almost surrounded by water, it even has a beautiful view of the Monument – a pool, fireplaces, designer landscaping, there is even a fountain! You will have bedrooms and bathrooms galore, a game room, home theater and a kitchen with a pantry larger than that cramped kitchen you seem to love so much – even two dishwashers! Come on Larry, shall I wave my magic wand?”
“No, I’m afraid not. I like what I have, it’s me, it’s a cottage, the cottage of my dreams. But, thank you.”
“I can’t believe it! There is nothing, not a single piece of property you would rather have?”
“No. This is my cottage – it just feels right.”
“Alright then, you can stay, we expected you would turn us down – you’re such a romantic. But we want to grant you a wish anyway, anything. Whatever you want, fame, fortune, riches – what will it be?”
I could tell my young fairy was losing her patience, frustrated with my loyalty to the tiny cottage by the lake. She held her magic wand over my head, glaring, but ready to grant my wish. “What will it be, Larry?”
I looked into those glistening blue eyes and simply said, “Tomorrow.”
Oh, and lest I forget, Happy Birthday Emma!
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