Cottages.

Cottages. I’ve never had one, unless you count the two summers of the rental cottage… so, I’ve never had one. My family was not one of the lucky many who piled into the mini-van (pre-DVD equipped days) and headed up north, Raffi pumping over the stereo system, tilly hats in tow. I always longed for the freedom of a summer spent on a clear, expansive lake. In my childhood reverie, I pictured endless adventures and fun in the summer sun, eschewing sunscreen and running around with my hair unbrushed, pretending to be a pirate.

Though my family were not cottage proprietors, we did cottage-hop from time to time. Instead of the family with an age-old lineage of cottagers, we were thenew breed of summer-worshipers. To use the word “moochers” might be a bit harsh, but we visited other people’s cottages with the innocent enjoyment of those who longed to have a summer home of their own. Basking in other people’s family histories, the summer was measured in trips to the cottages of friends and neighbours.

I say that my family has no cottage, but the thing about cottages is that at a cottage, it seems that everyone is family. Every time we loaded up our own mini-van and hit the open road, we were headed toward a warm welcome. While it would be slightly off-colour to not have a winter home and couch-surf into eternity, for some reason it’s just fine to plop yourself down on a friend’s cottage bed and read until the wee hours of the morning. There’s just some magical thing about a cottage that eliminates all of the normal rules and sets into place new decorum to be followed.

To sum up this decorum of the cottaging variety, I can use three words: slow, quiet and peaceful. As I write this, I sit overlooking a deep-blue lake at sunset, sensing the dusky calm around me. Slight waves lap against the granite shoreline, rocking docked boats. I eagerly await the sunset as I take in the glory of the day. Though I’m much older than when my family first began our cottage-hopping legacy, and the family unit has been whittled down to my mother and I, there is still something inately magical about this island on Georgian Bay. There is still that strange permission granted by the cottage that allows me to really and truly do nothing.

Though I tend to refer to myself as a city girl, I’m enjoying a small break from the hustle-bustle and connectivity of modern urban existence. When I woke up this morning with the sunrise and catapulted myself into the drink, shocking my body into wakefulness, I felt like my day had really begun. Settling into a warm bowl of oats on the screened in porch, I relished the lack of email-checking madness of a typical morning. The day progressed with an easy pace as I stretched into yoga poses on the rocks, splish-splashed in the Bay, read for hours, lost a game of Scrabble and finally folded myself into this chair to reflect.

Maybe my appreciation of the cottage stems from the novelty of feeling a fresh evening breeze on my face or for once not caring what my hair looks like. Whatever it is, it’s the same feeling every time- whether I’m 8, 13 or 21. It’s the cottage, not mine, but the cottage all the same.

(Originally written on Monday with a *gasp* real pen on paper.)

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