This summer has been an odd one for our family with a lot less time at the cottage. The boys were at camp in July and my Other Half and I were busy at work so we rented out the place to help cover our costs. We are lucky to have a family who takes it for three weeks every July and loves and understands it's 60 year old quirks and eccentricities. And where we live on the shores of Georgian Bay is cottage country to many people who travel up from the city to go to the beach or hike or bike. It's a tough life at home but there is something about being in the place you grew up.
The cottage is the one constant in my life and I hope it will be in my children's too. It is where I learned to swim and drive a boat (oh, the freedom of a tin boat with a 9.9hp motor on the back), it is where I smoked my first cigarette which my friend and I pilfered from my grandfather's ever present open pack. It is thanks to those Rothman's Extra Long + Extra Strong that I never smoked again. It is where I brought my first serious boyfriend and where my Mum told us to stay out of the sleeping cabins, "If there is anything you want to do you can do it in a canoe." I will definately use that line on my boys when the girlfriends start appearing. And it is where I brought my someday-to-be husband to pass the test of fishing with my Dad, playing cards with my grandmother and falling in love with the place that means so much to me.
The summers of a young mother spending nine weeks straight on the lake are gone, filled up with soccer tournaments and work. The long days of toddlers and babies splashing in a tiny wading pool on the dock and then graduating to jumping off in flourescent orange life jackets are over. Those long , hot afternoons of reading while children napped and then putting them to bed before the sun set so the adults could talk over many glasses of wine have been replaced by non stop lifeguarding as the boys paddle and swim across the lake to friends' cottages and serious fishing trips to catch the monster bass that has illuded four generations on this lake. We are ready to go to bed before the kids and can barely stay up to watch a meteor shower from the dock these days.
But the feeling is the same as I cross the lake for the first time each year. It is of peace descending like a gentle mist enveloping me no matter how frazzled I feel after packing the car, driving three hours, unpacking the car and then loading the boat. It is the memories that come from the water, the trees and the air here that have made me who I am and are helping to shape the men my boys will become. A shared conciousness with their great great grandparents that has been passed down through five generations. A sense of place, of where they come from and who they are.
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