Monday, February 20, 2012
There is a swatch of northern Minnesota and Wisconsin where every lake has a sugar sand bottom and every lake home and cabin is recently remodeled and comes with birch trees and mature white pines—and beautiful sunsets you can watch from the dock as you listen to the loons call.
I know this place exists because I know a woman who retreats to it via vacation rental property websites on cold dark evenings this time of year. She says she’s looking for a place to rent for a week this summer, but she’s really just keeping winter at bay—that and peeking into the lives and taste levels of people trying to rent out their places on these sites.
The photos—not always professional quality—show decks and docks. And kitchens and lofts and bedrooms and living areas. She examines them closely, looking for unintentionally included details and information.
She doesn’t trust bed linen with pictures of fish on it. Or stuffed fish for that matter. Or deer. Or dark photos of cramped kitchens with mismatched appliances. Or living area recliners that look old and saggy—as if they lurch back and to the left when you reach down and pull the lever.
The copy accompanying these pictures always gushes and glows and makes the place sound like some sort of north woods nirvana. The woman has learned to read between the lines. She enjoys teasing out details hidden there, good and bad.
She likes words like “pillow top mattress” and “top quality sheets”. They communicate a certain level of thought and comfort—thought and comfort you don’t always find in real north woods rentals.
She doesn’t trust adjectives like “cozy” or “quaint”. She considers them code words for cramped bedrooms, mousetraps, and erratic septic systems perpetually one flush away from disaster.
She is on her own private parade of lake homes. She’s a north woods “Nosey Nellie” who would poke in the closets and open the medicine cabinet if these websites would let her.
Maybe she’ll rent a place. Then again, maybe not. She’ll relax and take her time making up her mind. She enjoys the thrill of the hunt. And while it’s only February in the real world, it’s always summer up at the lake on the web.