Laze, haze, & daze... tis summer at last...When I was a girl, my dad's brother bought a small getaway next to a small New Mexico lake. I don't remember the name of the lake, but Uncle Dick referred to his cabin as a cabinet. I remember my parents laughing at his nomenclature—until we got there. It was a barren beachfront with about 30 tiny buildings sharing a clap-trap communal outhouse. TINY. It was indeed a cabinet. Plus no trees. People just parked their cars next to their own cabinets and it was so hot on the sand they drove the 20 yards to the outhouse. I don't remember anything else. OK: bugs. I remember bugs. The lake seemed murky and was not very inviting. From my today's mind, I'm guessing people must have had boats and gone out on the water to fish, but I certainly don't remember any of that. My memories are full of only the discomfort and the TINY-ness. I was about to start the third grade in Lubbock, Texas, at the time, so maybe you'll forgive my narrow focus.
Granted, in Texas, many people had cabins on one lake or another, but they were not common among my friends as I grew up in San Antonio... and those cabins were more often rustic one-room affairs, each situated on a small wooded lot with its own well and outhouse. That had always been my understanding of what a cabin was supposed to be.
Since coming to Toronto, I've been introduced to the tradition of cottages, cottage country, and cottage season. Cottage country is marked by many small lakes and lots of picturesque woodlands. The tradition is from before the days of working mums. On the first weekend as soon as school was out at the end of June, families would pack up bedding, pots and pans, linens, food, and water toys galore and drive several hours to their own cottage or one they'd rented for the summer. The dad would help them get settled in, then return to work Monday morning. Then every Friday the dad would return for the weekend, often indulging in boating and fishing and maybe even dock repairs—then rush back to his job in the city on Mondays. Of course, if the dad could arrange his work vacation to fall during this time he could stay a week or two. He and his friends might spend their time putting a new roof on the cottage. These days the tradition continues, but with adjustments for working mums and sometimes these arrangements involve nannies. The high-school version of Kate did a summer stint as a nanny at one such cottage.
Family cottages might be small or even rather large houses. They are never, ever cabinets. They may or may not have wells, but they always seem to have a way to bring water from whatever nearby lake is offering its presence as excuse for the season. Drinking water, then, is often carried from nearby springs. Septic tanks have made indoor plumbing possible for many. Many cottages these days have ALL the mod cons. Larger families share their cottages generation after generation. Some families seem to pile in all at once like a hive and others work out their own time-share arrangements. But all the family cottagers share in the upkeep and the expectation of relaxation away from the hustle and bustle of city life.
The view here is from Marje's family cottage. It's is on a very quiet small lake in the Muskoka region a few hours north of Toronto. I hear the black flies can carry one away. Monday night's storm blew these very chairs over, but not away. Stormy gusts are obviously less onerous than country insects. There's no denying the idyl of it all, though, is there? Haze, mist, and the myst-ery of calm solitude. Ah-h-h-h-h-h.
If this isn't nice, what is?
~ Kurt Vonnegut, of course