Sunday, August 05, 2012

The Witches Hit Middle Bass

I didn’t write a post here all last week. Did you notice? I just didn’t have much to say, had other things to do and then decided to take a little break. Three of my good friends and I escaped to an island retreat for a few days, sort of like The Witches Hit Middle Bass. Here’s what I mean:

I’ve got these friends, and we get together periodically for cocktails and conversation. This is a great group of women—no gossip, no backbiting, no pettiness. We are loyal and loving confidants capable of drawing the very last breath out of a wide range of topics; and when we get together, we occasionally like to refer to ourselves as the Wyrd Sisters (a Terry Pratchett reference) or The Witches, as in “You witches free this Wednesday for margaritas?

All but one of The Witches packed up and headed north for Lake Erie because Katy has a house on Middle Bass Island and had invited us to go there Friday through Sunday. Lake Erie has a series of little islands accessible by ferry. Middle Bass is what you’d expect, situated between South Bass and North Bass. It’s also near Kelley’s Island, Hen Island, Rattle Snake Island, etc. And visible from the north shore of Middle Bass sits Pelee Island, part of Ontario, Canada, which is why the Middle Bass residents fly American flags.

Our first stop before boarding the ferry was a grocery store for provisions, and as a group, we pushed the cart all around the store grabbing this and that. This looks good! We need that! Key lime meringue pie! By the time we got to the register, our cart was overflowing and difficult to maneuver, and our bill came close to $250. I’ll repeat—$250 for four women for fewer than three days.

On the 45-minute ferry ride to the island.


Katy’s house is what she calls a birdhouse, a cute little cottage situated right on the lake. The first floor is one large room with kitchen and living area plus a bath, and upstairs is an open loft with three beds and balconies looking down below.

View from the back yard
We settled in, unpacked, looked around, admired the view and waited for the last of us to arrive on a later ferry. And then I put myself in a lawn chair facing the water, with a welcomed breeze in my hair and a book in my lap, and within ten minutes, I was sound asleep.

We had talked about going to the bar on the other side of the island later in the evening for a drink or two and to listen to some singer or other, but once we were all there and ready for dinner, we didn’t want to budge. We grilled salmon finished with an herb butter, baked crab cakes served with a remoulade and mixed a green salad worthy of awards. We poured a glass of wine and ate with glee. In fact, one of us looked at the scene we had created for ourselves—the food, the friends, the surroundings—and said, “I think I’m going to cry.”

On day two, we took our time milling around the house in the morning, and I made breakfast for us all—we bought enough eggs to feed a baseball team, so I made a generous portion of scrambled with bacon and fruit and coffee and laughs. And then later we took a ferry to Put-in-Bay.

Put-in-Bay is the town on South Bass, a party town with streets lined with bars and restaurants with bars and gift shops. The gift shops probably have bars, too, and while afternoons are raucous like a mild frat party, evenings can be a crazed brawl. Our folk singing friend, Alex Bevan, described the place as Disney World for Alcoholics. In that sense, it’s a sad joint, but in another sense, it’s a spectacle to walk through and then walk away from.

After meandering through a few gift shops that seemed to want to trick you into thinking you were in the tropics, we went to The Keys, a sprawling mostly outdoor bar and restaurant to sit through a set or two of Alex, a regional folk singer we know. He would be singing for several hours, so we got a table very near him. He took his break with us, and we had a fun little chat.

Then we did what islanders do—we rented a golf cart and headed away from the ruckus. We drove inland to a restaurant we had read good reviews of, The Goat, and had a great dinner. If anyone from The Goat were to google themselves and find this post, let me say a few things. 1) your perch tacos are really good 2) the metal ceiling in your dining room is a very bad idea, and if your customers don’t walk out deaf from all the noise bouncing around that room, they must have walked in deaf to begin with.

When the party started to pick up back on the main drag, we turned in our cart and took the ferry back to Middle Bass. It was a good idea for several reasons, only one of which was the impending storm that soon boiled the water and would have made for a rough ride had we lingered. We had hoped to sit on the sea wall with martinis, but by the time we got back to the house, the wind and the lightning made it a risky prospect. We did sit there for a little while, but the storm finally drove us in. And we sat up for hours and talked and giggled and dug into that pie.

Another storm caught us in the morning, and we snuggled in with another nice breakfast and coffee and chatter, as we were prone to do regardless of the weather. And we packed up, turned out the light and hunkered down in the ferry for a slightly rough ride back to the mainland and real life. Actually, having close friends and making the effort to take time away—and it does take effort—is real life. And aren’t I lucky that's true.

Sunset on Lake Erie with North Bass on the horizon
Monument to Commodore Perry, War of 1812


1 comment:

dive said...

What a fabulous weekend, Robyn!
If only Pratchett's Wyrd Sisters looked as good (and hey: you're wearing my sunglasses).
Love the Birdhouse (now you've got me singing They Might Be Giants) and especially the view.
So good that you caught up with Alex Bevan again. South Bass sounds a boisterous place, and I think your restaurant review is simply brilliant.
Could this be the start of a regular Wyrd Sisters Weekender?