"Someday's gonna be a busy day..."

Monday, 19 August 2013

Five Things About...a Week at the Cottage

Beach Bum (okay, just a bum)
We’ve been at my Aunt’s cottage on Bruce Beach since last Tuesday, and I’m suffering from a complete lack of motivation to do anything other than eat, read and drink a lot of coffee. Having two active kidlets with me the whole time has put the kibosh on engaging in any of these activities for more than ten minute intervals, but lemme tell you, there hasn’t been much writing, facebooking, laundry, bed making or even hair styling or underwear-wearing going on. It must be something to do with the constant rush of waves in the background. Maybe it’s the way the aspen trees whisper their secrets to one another all day. Or the feel of soft grass and warm sand on my toes. Possibly it’s the lazy drone of bumblebees, the chorus of cardinals and robins and chickadees, the rhythmic, tiny buzz-saw of cicada songs. Whatever it is, I do not want to do anything that even remotely resembles work, unless it involves eating or opening a bottle of wine. And that’s fine with me.

Good Eats
There’s something to be said for cooking in a kitchen that is not your own. You have to hunt for utensils (where IS the cheese grater, anyway?), discover which pot goes where (wow, my aunt stacks her pans together with almost architectural flair) and figure out what ingredients you have on hand before you can decide what to make. It’s fun, because cooking rarely feels like work to me, and I’m enjoying the whole scavenger hunt aspect as well. Plus the lake air gives me a huge appetite, so planning and executing supper every evening is a pleasure. Some of my favourite dishes so far:
- baby zucchinis, stuffed with onion, garlic, salty breadcrumbs and cheese, then barbecued to perfection
- walnut pesto with basil picked from the neighbour’s garden (with their permission, of course)
- vegetable ribbons with a sweet, creamy peanut sauce
- slabs of salmon glazed with maple syrup
- hot dogs and hamburgers scorched just right on the barbecue, served with thick slices of fresh tomato and sweet onion
- my friend Ruthie’s Greek salad, made with chunks of crisp, garden-grown cucumbers and juicy tomatoes
- the best ever banana muffins, thanks to the perfectly squishy bananas my aunt left behind (and the fact that I did not bring any whole wheat flour or bran to healthify them)
- a sour cream peach pie, made with slurpy Niagara peaches and my mother-in-law’s secret recipe
The only problem? Cooking = dishes, which counts as work. Which I clearly have no motivation whatsoever to do. Thank goodness for the dishwasher. And D.

Sleep, or lack thereof
Normally when I come to the cottage, I sleep like a satisfied baby. But weirdly, this year I haven’t been sleeping well at all. I chalk that up mostly to Dylan’s refusal to go to bed at a decent hour, or stay in his own bed once he does fall asleep. That kid is has become a menace after 9 p.m.. You’d think hours of sun and sand and running amok in the water would turn him into a zombie once the sun goes down, but it hasn’t. Jade, on the other hand, has built herself a nest of every spare pillow and blanket in the cottage. She staggers into her room at the end of each day, burrows into the pile and pretty much conks out until morning. Meanwhile, her brother either falls into an inconvenient coma around 6 p.m. and wakes up around 3 a.m. looking to party, or simply refuses to go to bed at all. Last night D decided he’d had enough, and physically blockaded the door to Dylan’s room. Dylan sobbed, begged, howled and finally fell asleep on the floor beside his bed. But he stayed there, miraculously, until about seven this morning. Which meant that for the first time in a week, I had a full, glorious night’s sleep. I woke up feeling sparkly and sunshiny, with enough energy to go for a long walk on the beach. A holiday at the cottage just isn’t complete without a good night’s sleep, so at least I had at least one...

Sunset and Moonrise
There are two things I’m either too sleepy or too busy to appreciate very often back at Someday: sunsets and moonrises. At the cottage, however, it’s an unspoken ritual for cottagers to come out and watch the sun melt into the horizon. We’ve had the good luck this week to have the moon waxing full, so our friend Luna appears to shine over our left shoulders as we say goodnight to the sun. Best of all, Jade and I have been taking sunset kayak rides each night, which I absolutely love. She trails her little fingers in the water, and we have conversations about this and that while I paddle, like whether we prefer the sun or the moon, and whether God is in charge of the world, and why pink really is the best colour in all of the universe. Dylan runs away every time I suggest a kayak ride; I wonder if he’s telepathically intercepted my occasional desire to dump him in the lake as payback for keeping me awake all week. No matter. It’s a special time for Jady and me, and I’m content to bid goodnight to the sun with her each night amidst the peace and stillness of the lake while Dylan regards us suspiciously from the shore.

Summer’s Almost Over...again
I can hear it in the increased volume of cricket songs at night. I can see it when the poplar leaves flip up and show me their pale underbellies. I can sense it in the sand that is cool under my feet at night instead of warm from a day’s heat. As much as I hate to admit it, summer is almost over. There is a wistfulness stirring inside me during our last few days at the cottage; even as the kids and I run and laugh until we’re breathless from playing sprinkler tag, even as we build and decorate sandcastles, even as I help them paint rocks, I know that this is the last summer we’ll be so carefree. Jady starts school in the fall; Dylan is changing and growing before my eyes; I may be going back to work before long. We’ll hopefully have more summers at the cottage together, but my kidlets won’t ever be this little, or this untroubled by responsibility again. With every leaf that swirls down and lands on the deck, and every degree the temperature drops each night, I’m reminded of how we can have enough of everything except time. This week has been fun, and tiring, and full of activity and so very precious to me. I supposed the only way to hold on to these memories is to let them happen, then let them go, knowing I can return to them whenever I need to steady myself in the whirlwind of autumn days to come.