Hansel and Gretel slept here

Posted on February 27, 2010


So as I meandered about the County, I kept passing these signs on US 31, just north of Torch Lake Township.   Finally I had to stop and investigate. 

I wanted to know about the Creek House. I wanted to know what Hansel and Gretel were up to.  I wanted to see the pole barn and the creek.  I wanted to pace off the acreage.  I wanted to go down the drive and explore.  Wouldn’t you?

Except I recalled that when Hansel and Gretel were in the enchanted forest it wasn’t an altogether happy experience. Soo . . . I thought perhaps I’d look into matters further.  I discovered that Wally Rakecky had the property for sale.  OK, I thought, Wally doesn’t actually hate me. I should call him about it.

Then today as I was passing I saw that Wally had been plowing out the road.  Aha!  If his truck is still there on my way back, I said to myself, I’ll stop.  And so I did.  I left the car out by the highway and trotted back into the woods, following the sound of heavy equipment.

And there was Wally, on a vintage John Deere, clearing the area by the pole barn.  I explained my mission.  Sure, he said, waving me on down the lane.  The door’s open. Go in and take a look.  I am no more able to resist such an invitation than Hansel and Gretel were.  Pretty soon I arrived at The Creek House.  Sure enough there’s a creek, too, with a bridge.  And a porch where a person can sit and look at the creek and the wildlife and the 15 rolling wooded acres. Ponder the nature of eternity, or drink a cold beer, whichever.

Wally told me that the place started out as a tiny hunting cabin, probably back in the 1940s or ’50s.  This is what it looked like then.

As near as Wally can figure, the part we were standing in, the kitchen, is the much remodeled remains of the original cabin.  The rest of the house was added on later. 

I love this cabin.  Knotty pine everywhere.  (I think there’s a knotty pine gene somewhere in my family tree.)  There’s a reading nook by the entry, a dining room full of duck decoys and duck prints, a gas log heating stove in the living room.  There are three bedrooms, one of them in a loft reached by a steep stairway, as is proper. 

In spite of all the rustic charm, there’s a nice up-to-date bathroom, electric baseboard heating, and a laundry.  I do not believe that Hansel and Gretel had it this good.  Miss Sadie, the Cowboy and I do not have it this good at the Writing Studio and Bait Shop, which is why we spend so much time at the Wash Basket.

Ah well. I had to get back home, and Wally had to get back to work, which is what guys call it when they’re vroom-vrooming around on heavy equipment.  That’s the real reason for having a place like this. 

Then of course I had to back the car out of the lane, not having had the forethought to back in.  There was a teensy little dip.  Each time I a-l-m-o-s-t crested the drive, a truck came barrelling down US 31 and I was forced to retreat smartly.  Finally, on the fourth try, I shot across the highway like a suicidal deer, slipping neatly between a northbound SUV and a southbound F350.  Then I drove home sedately, reminding myself that I had promised Rob the Firefighter not to get myself into trouble on back roads.

Places like the Creek House are as much a part of our heritage as centennial barns and 19th century storefronts. They’re at the heart of the dream of “Up North” that was shared for decades by autoworkers from Flint, teachers from Kalamazoo, commuters on the Lodge. Have a little time away from it all. Breathe some pine-scented air. Drop a hook in the water. Remember who you really are.