Of Loons and Lake Baths...

Sometimes the idea of packing up the car (I always forget something), canceling the newspaper and indulging in the neighbour’s goodwill (once again) to retrieve mail and water the plants, can all be a little daunting.

There are the inevitable yet never anticipated delays of long line-ups at “Tim’s”, road closures and the stereotypical “Sunday driver”, in no hurray to conquer the back roads, despite a caravan of overly-anxious cottagers bunching up behind him or her.

There is even the occasional speeding ticket when a cunning and conniving OPP officer, looking out for our safety, positions himself just after the on-ramp hoping to trap the usually innocent but over enthusiastic motorist hungry for escape from the madding crowds.

The nerves fray, the stresses of the past days` weeks, or months roll up into the perfect storm as the destination appears virtually unreachable or at least not reachable soon enough! We count off the landmarks in ten- minute increments.

And then…the last turn-off. The shoulders ease, the jaw slackens, the pulse rate slows in sheer anticipation. The sun roof opens to allow “Tilly” to sniff the familiar air. The car comes to a stop, doors open and with that first lungful of same air, the humans begin the process of decompression.

A glass of wine on the dock as we sink into the weathered and lovingly re-stained Muskoka chairs that stand vigil on Black Duck Bay through rain and snow storms, biting cold and searing heat 24-7, 12 months a year, 10 years and counting. This sun begins to set. We’ll be back…with more wine…when the stars come out; stars that only appear against such a blackened night sky, to the comforting sound of lapping water, rustling trees and the hauntingly nostalgic cry of the loon. Our’s is named “Lucy”. We also have “Hilda the Heron” and “Ollie the Osprey”.

And so cottage life resumes. There will be no blow dryers, make-up, high heels, or suit jackets for the next week. Showers are replaced by lake baths, with bio-degradable soap of course. There’s nothing like shaving your legs balancing precariously on a rocky outcropping or rinsing your hair with a bucket of lake water.

It takes 24 to48 hours for this process of decompression to play our. It’s all-day breakfast/lunch/dinner and midnight snacks, and roasted marshmallows, not to mention “Uncle Dave’s Special Surprise Everything Ice Creams Cones” , the requisite “Lucky Charms” and “white donuts” that can be consumed at any hour of the day or night for that matter.

Lazy days floating on vinyl rafts, alternate with heart-stopping “tubing” escapades in the speed boat, trips in town for worms, adventures to the nearest zoo/ reptile park when the clouds roll in or more expensive outings to “Giant Tiger” when the skies open up.

But there is only one place to be at the first crack of thunder: curled up …with more wine…sometimes a cozy blanket with only candlelight allowed…on the screened porch. No movie, TV show or video game can ever come close to Mother’s Nature’s big show in cottage country.

This particular year is made even more special with another “showing”; a son who just turns 20 re-discovers the magic of his childhood, and after leading an armada of younger cousins and neighbours to his old tree fort on “Turtle Island”, exclaims with a quiet sign, “I love this place!”

Sometime we think we may sell. There is upkeep and time-worn rakes to prove it: weeds in summer, leaves in fall; snow to shovel in winter; filters to change in the well. A new BBQ burner; new windows this year; perhaps a new roof next year.

We caved in to a telephone and TV. Now we sure could use a bigger bathroom , maybe even a second bathrooms (those early morning and late night line-ups can seem endless!). What about a washer and dryer…just like home? But maybe that’s exactly what we don’t want. It’s a cottage, after all, my husband reminds me. He’s right (for now) and I love this place too!