An ode to the cottage life


When we first moved out east ten years ago I didn't understand the cottage life at all. Or cottaging as it is sometimes called. Out west we called them cabins. And some people had a cabin somewhere on a lake but not many. What I didn't understand about cottages when I moved east to Toronto was that it was its own culture, its own lifestyle, its own way of life.

But once I got a taste of it, I was hooked. I wanted a cottage.

It had to be within two hours of Toronto so that we would use it regularly. Anything over three hours and you won't be driving up every weekend, especially with kids.

It had to be "cottage-y" too. I didn't want a suburban house on a lake. I wanted something rustic, something that looked like a cottage. Someplace different than anything I would find in a city.

After two years of looking, we found it. And it only took a few days before I knew that I would always love cottaging. Always love the weekend getaways and the weeks in the summer of swimming and boating and kayaking and relaxing. With no television and no computers. Board games and crafts and books for rainy days. Making paths in the forest and building fairy trails. 

The girl learned how to swim at the cottage - it's amazing what swimming 2-3 times a day will do. And for us, waterskiing and wakeboarding daily as well.

I miss taking the kayak out in the early morning when the mist is still on the lake. I'd pack a few snacks and take the girl. She'd lean back against me and off we'd go for an hour. And then later in the morning we'd be back out again but this time in the power boat, towing the girl in a tube, and the man and I taking turns pulling each other on water skis and wakeboards. Of course we'd have to make a stop at the marina to see the owner Richard and his family and buy a popsicle.

Anchoring in the middle of the lake for a swim. Jumping off the dock and swimming to the small island in the bay and back. Picking blueberries on Blueberry Island. Boating to dam, climbing up and jumping off. Heaven...

The living room. Of course I had to make it my own nest! The wall unit, coffee table and lamps came with the cottage. I added the new couch, the cotton striped rug, the alphabet art from Bookhou (also the source of the house-shaped bookends). The "L A" is an inside joke between the man and I, not the city.

And here's the girl the first summer we had the cottage. The main cottage is out of view to the left and the small tiny building is the art studio that the previous owner built. The lake is out of view to the right. Cottage life with kids is what I call a free range life - especially for a city kid. 

And here she is last summer on the other side of the cottage outside of the Muskoka room (screened porch). The man and I would sit there by candlelight after she had gone to bed and discuss the day while planning the next one. We'd hear the crickets and the guitars from the neighbours sitting around their campfire across the bay.

It's funny being on the other side of cottage life, having lived it and loved it and adored it - I can't imagine not doing it. I can't believe that I actually had to think about it. It's part of us now. It's what we do as a family. And now out here on the west coast, we are again looking for a cottage. 

Do you cottage?