Promoting The Art of Letter Writing at Lakeside Chautauqua

Lakeside Women’s Club at Green Gables

I was delighted to be asked to speak on the subject of letter writing at Lakeside Chautauqua because I had heard it was a charming, historic gated community on the western shores of Lake Erie and I was anxious to see this place for myself. It was a double delight to have the chance to speak about one of my favorite things -The art of Letter writing while poking around this cute place.

How I love writing and receiving letters. I write at least two letters each and every day and then when the postman comes to my house more delightful letters are delivered to me. Everyone should have this fun and so I am very happy to share my love of letters with any group that invites me to speak to them. Sharing doubles my joy.

Lakeside is about an hour and a half ride from my town of Hudson. As I got close entering the peninsula where it’s located there was water, water everywhere.

At the entrance to this gated community there really is a gate where someone checks you in, for there is a charge to visit this place if you are not a resident.

The entrance gate

After a quick drive around I found my way to the place where I would be speaking. With covid it was good that the building had an open air area for my talk.

The Train Station

My audience was wearing masks and keeping a distance from each other because safety is an issue in these covid times. All went according to plan and the Lakeside people were a most wonderful audience – so attentive, some people even taking notes. Since this talk I have gotten letters from some folks who attended my talk and I’m so happy to learn they are now writing letters to old and new friends. Others have called and asked me to deliver yet another talk on letters to their writing group. I don’t expect to convert the whole world into letter writers but one by one I’m achieving my objective.

My Objective: To Inspire people to write letters

With the talk behind me I could now explore this charming community. I went first to the historic Hotel Lakeside.

This hotel was established in 1875. I sure love historic country inns and historic hotels so I was delighted to discover this charming place at the edge of the water. The Friends of Hotel Lakeside and the Lakeside Association have been working since 1974 to upgrade the facility. The most important improvements have included complete rewiring, partial new plumbing, installation of a sprinkler system, elevator access to all floors, new kitchen, restoration and air conditioning of the dining room and it goes on and on. As an owner of an 1853 house I understand how much money and attention must go into an old property. I’m so glad there are people who appreciate historic preservation.

It was the end of Summer so many people left to get kids back to school, but I can imagine this room hopping at the peak of the Summer.

If I find myself here next Summer you can bet this is where I’d be sitting with some coffee writing letters.

So many scenes of beauty here – a photographer’s delight. The architecture of this hotel reminded me of the movie “Somewhere in Time”. It was easy to imagine peoper ladies and gentlemen of past days congregating at this hotel and strolling through these doors onto the grounds.

There were so many charming houses in this town with so many beautiful flowers and picket fences and inviting porches in which to take in the lake breezes. What a delightful neighborhood in which to spend Summer days.

There were shops in town too where all those basic items needed could be found – and a few places to order a dinner out.

The town was bursting with flowers. Everyone here seems to be a gardener.

But of course what was most wonderful was to have the lake right there. A Great Lake is nothing to sneeze at. To enjoy restful Summer days so near this body of water must be wonderful for the residents of Lakeside.

It was my love of letters that gave me the opportunity to visit this charming community and I hope to return again and again – maybe spending a week or two here next Summer.

I’m always saying one thing leads to another. My love of letter writing was responsible for a wonderful day speaking about a thing I love, meeting new people, and discovering yet another corner of our wonderful world.

Thanks for joining me on this trip to historic Lakeside Chautauqua. Sharing doubled my joy.

Country Inn Nature Day

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Today I take advantage of the fact that I happen to live near one of the Great Lakes of the world, Lake Erie.  This lake takes its name from  the Erie tribe of our Native Americans, a shortened form of the Iroquoian (erie/honan meaning long tail).

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The five Great Lakes – Erie, Huron, Michigan, Ontario and Superior, are interconnected fresh water lakes located on the Canada-United States border.  They form the largest group of freshwater lakes on Earth containing 21% of the world’s surface fresh water by volume.  Due to their sea-like characteristics (rolling waves, sustained winds, strong currents, great depths and distant horizons) these five Great Lakes have long been referred to as inland seas.  We in Cleveland  proudly say we live on the North Coast.  People brag about living near an ocean, but it’s also quite special to live near  a Great Lake. Too many people fail to take advantage of a Great Lakes beauty, but not me.

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I’m not much of a swimmer or boater, but I love walking along the water’s edge and enjoying the beauty of the lake. I find the time I spend carried away with nature’s beauty helps me subtract years from my age.  Nature’s beauty has magical powers for when we take that beauty in we feel its glow in our soul.

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Here at Edgewater Park I’m only a mile or two from busy downtown Cleveland but on this and every Country Inn Day I step away from life in the modern world and give myself permission to live somewhere between heaven and earth – to “just be”.  I could be home cleaning or “doing” any number of useful things and I will get to those things, but on Country Inn Days it’s more about being than doing.  Sure, we need to “do”, but not every day.  If we don’t give ourselves permission to step out of our routines who will?  Nobody will and we’ll miss so much.

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Sam Horn, author 0f CoZentraten, writes, “the contentment we seek is available anytime, anywhere… for a moment’s notice.  And age becomes immaterial when you’re immersed in appreciation.”  We can experience such beneficial appreciation in all sorts of ways – strolling through art galleries, working in the garden, creating a delicious meal, playing the piano – so many ways, but observing nature is there at the top of my list.

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I usually enjoy Country Inn Days alone so that I’m free to come and go just as I please.  If I take anyone along with me it’s usually a “dead friend”, a person of the past who I commune with through their letters, journals or biographies.  These “dead friends” are great company at lunch, telling me interesting stories from lives past.  “Dead friends” make no demands.  “Dead friends” are like that, they’re great!  I hope you have some “dead friends” of your own too. But since my son Rory happens to live steps away from Lake Erie, owning a condo in Cleveland’s warehouse district, I invited him to join me here at the lake. Rory has always appreciated nature for he’s  a former boy scout who still goes off hiking and camping with friends, but it’s good to have a little mother/son time in nature too and what better time and place to have it than right here at Lake Erie with me on this Country Inn Day..

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Rory and I stroll along the break wall watching the sail boats in the distance.  We chat.  What a lovely Country Inn Day I’m having.  Simple pleasures like these are the best!

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And after a nice time here at the lake, Rory and I stroll back to our car talking about how even simple pleasures don’t just happen. They have to be planned.  First, one must discover what sort of life they’ve imagined for themselves. Then, as Henry David Thoreau used to say, “If you’ve built castles in the air, fine,  just create the foundations under them.”  I do this by scheduling a Country Inn Day each and every week.  And one regular activity of each Inn day is to review the rest of my days being sure they are addressing the life I’ve imagined for myself.  We only have one life after all.  If we don’t take charge of it who will?

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Before I return to Hudson Rory and I decide to have a bite to eat.  Rory is good company, he’s even more fun for me than being with one of my “dead friends” and I love my “dead friends” dearly.  But a good mother always enjoys being with her children, in my case with her handsome sons. This restaurant/bar is around the corner from Rory’s condo, not my kind of place – no white tablecloths,  but I’m always happy to be with my sons, stepping into their worlds whatever those worlds may be. Mother/son time doesn’t happen nearly often enough, but it happened for me today.

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Well, a very satisfying Country Inn Nature Day it was, but then all Country Inn Days are most satisfying.  I drive away from Lake Erie (you see it in the distance)  with renewed contentment.  I hope you’re enjoying the nature in your backyard too. So often those things closest to home are taken for granted, but not by me.   Let’s hope not by you either.  Leave me a comment and tell me what you’ve been enjoying in your backyard lately.

Sharing doubles the joy!