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A few weeks ago, I got tired of the default pictures in the Windows desktop slideshow on my computer, so I set it to use photos in a folder on my hard drive called “Cottage.”

There were photos of cookouts and chipmunks and sunsets; photos of dogs swimming or begging or sleeping; photos of small cousins playing in the sand or performing acrobatic feats; and lots and lots of photos of the beach:

I have gone to this beach every summer of my entire life. In fact, my family has been vacationing there since my grandmother was a teenager.

It’s not a trivial distance from Kalamazoo, so we don’t go often and usually try to stay for close to a week. We try to avoid traveling on holidays, and I hadn’t been thinking of going for Memorial Day weekend, but these photos made me homesick, and so we went.

Our visit was as typical as is possible. We took long walks and had delicious meals. We laughed a lot and slept well.

But as much as it seems like paradise, no vacation there is perfect. There were one gazillion mayflies (by actual count), and we had a very near dog-porcupine encounter. Still, although I don’t think of the place very often when I am not there (daily life tends to take a lot of attention), I know how fortunate I am to have it—not just the beach but also the woods, the cottage, the memories.

Pictures like these ensure that I remember.