You're more than welcome to drop by my home anytime... No, really you are. My door is always open, there is a jumble of bikes on my front lawn, a jumble of boys on the back lawn and dogs running helter skelter everywhere. We will welcome you with open arms. It's just that I should prepare you... Our version of hospitality is often different that what most people expect.
Chances are our air conditioning is switched off and fans are steadily blowing cool air throughout our 80-year old lakefront home with it's original windows open and dehumidifier humming.
We won't offer you a soda, a juice box or a bottle of water. Our fridge is stocked with fresh lemonade, a pitcher of ice cold water, some juice and milk in curvy glass bottles. My boys will happily offer you some, breaking out a washable marker to ink your name on the side of your glass, which we will wash after you leave.
Snacks will appear in mis-match glass bowls, chipped and well worn, but filled with delicious treats. The homemade kettle corn, made from the pretty red kernels bought from last year's farmer's market will be crunchy, salty and sweet. My youngest will proudly serve you the cupcakes or cookies he made - straight from the cookie jar, some large, others small and some slightly too-brown around the edges. There won't be any packaging to drift away in the wind from our back yard patio perch and clean up will be a breeze.
Giggles and shouts will reach your ears from the backyard while the TV, game consoles and stereos all sit quiet and dark. Children will roll down the hill, splash in the lake and play many games of pickle - all with their own two hands - not a video game or remote in sight.
My lawn, speckled with dandelions and clover and awash with white daisies run amok is the perfect place to put down your toddler to crawl and inspect the crickets, lady bugs and rocks. It's not the greenest or the prettiest, but it is chemical-free and perfect for chubby fingers and toes!
If you get cold, you might want to borrow a jacket or blanket from our mis-matched collection of hand-me-downs and thrift store finds. Don't mind that the beach towels have holes, some are almost vintage (do you remember Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? We do!) and some most likely belong to someone who left their cast offs at our home, which we gladly took into the fold.
We will offer you a drink as the sun sets, most likely a local Michigan brew or a locally roasted cup of coffee with some organic cream and raw sugar. The kids will most likely want a treat and my boys will run for the freezer to share popsicles on the reusable sticks that hold a sticky sweet mess made from organic yogurt and blended strawberries from the U-pick place down the road.
At the end of the night, we will say good evening and we hope you've had a pleasant time. We know that you went without soda, chips and beer from Mexico. Your children had to survive without ice cream bars, video games and fancy beach toys. Maybe you didn't mind, or maybe you think we're crazy fools who live like treehugging nutters. Either way, we hope you will come again!