We closed on the house on my birthday. I remember how Sean and I swam in the lake, diving down until our lungs burned and shooting back to the surface laughing. Inside, we ran our hands along the spiral staircase railing and watched the reflection of the sun off the water dancing across the ceiling.

The open living room drenched in morning sun

“It’s ours,” we said in shock.

A wooden swim platform in the middle of a lake with the fading color of sunset in the background.

The house was a place in Vermont with a too dreamy-to-be-believed sleeping loft for the girls, multiple decks, and a waterfront that the girls could swim and kayak in, plus a woodstove and a firepit to feed my love of fire making year round.  It was less than 50 minutes from our house but felt like a world away.

Our world.

A cedar dock with two Adirondack chairs.

We’d been married ten years, the girls were 11, 9, and 7. It felt as if we were suspended in a moment of ripeness, we had a bit of a nest egg, happy marriage, and three daughters who enjoyed being together as a family. It was the moment to reach for the dream.

A mountainous Vermont landscape reflected in Lake St. Catherine.

The sky and surface of the water call and answer.

It has been everything we hoped for and more. I’ve spent countless nights at the bottom of the ladder to the loft listening to Sean and the girls sing. I’ve raced outside with coffee to watch every last second of the sunrise and slipped under a cozy throw to take the sunset like dessert. Sean and I poured ourselves into the house to make it special, but it’s the time we spent there, our focus on each other and on our family that made it the dearest to us. It brought out new sides (and talents) in us all. Finely helped Sean build a deck!

Finley and her dad work on a deck construction project.

Double duty: firewood storage below + kid hang out above.

The girls created worlds, playing American Ninja Warrior along the rungs beneath the dock, transplanting moss for fairy gardens, and creating rules to live and love by.

The girls handprinted a sign reading: Rules—Have fun, be kind, share, be yourself

Rules: Have Fun, Be Kind, Share, Be Yourself

This summer I feel a bit of autumn in the air. Barely visible tethers begin to pull us in different directions. I can even feel the guilt and confusion as the way it’s always been, becomes less what we all want. Our getaway is happening more at bedtime or on the edges of busy days. Lessons, rehearsals, alone time, meetings, and adventures stretch us ever thinner.

Three girls work on a puzzle in afternoon light.

We’re going to follow the rule and share. We’re putting our idyllic, slice of Vermont on the market. It’s time for someone else to feel the elixir of Vermont air and the embrace of this special place. Meanwhile, we are going to have our forever home be a little bigger. The girls will have more space, collectively we’ll have more room, and we’ll treasure the time having fun and being ourselves.

If you know someone who has always dreamed of a place to retreat or revel, they may find this to be just the thing.


Have a look.

Trees explode in colors of gold and crimson as autumn arrives on Lake St. Catherine.