While you’re reading this, I am standing on a dock overlooking the lake. I’ve been here since before the sun came up, when the fog hung low over the still black water.
There is something mystical about watching that veil of white slowly swirl away to reveal the day, as the giant orange ball rises over the cottages and homes across Sturgeon Lake. Hugging my morning mug of coffee, I’ll be there until the sun’s rays have warmed my face. Alone but not lonely.
I’ve expressed my love of Bobcaygeon before. My family has ended every summer here for 17 years now. This week has been the last hurrah before preschool, kindergarten, elementary school, school changes and middle school, to the big anxiety of starting high school, and now it will be the last week before my baby boy heads off to college. So, this place isn’t just a cottage rental to us. This place is a part of our history, a celebration of a the turning of life’s seasons.
If this pandemic has taught me anything it’s that more often than I allow, I need a physical and mental break from the life I live every day. A full-stop. I need to put my town, my community and my work in the rearview mirror and get gone.
It’s not out of hostility or discontentment for any of those things. It’s about a break in the routine before that routine breaks me. It’s about getting far enough away from everyone and everything to breathe, to be still, to sort out and sort through.
The Carpenter is going to miss out on this trip. A recent job change means no vacation time. If you know him, you’ll know he’s okay with that. Weekend breaks are all he can manage before he starts to twitch. He is a freak of nature. We are different people with different ideas of relaxing. Better than anyone, he knows I need this time. He knows the kids love it there. In a way, I’m sure a quiet house is a vacation for him too. Still, he will be missed (more chip dip for me).
Fortunately, we’ve created a surrogate family in Bobcaygeon lovingly known as the Cottage Cousins. Four families of children have grown up together despite only seeing each other one week a year. Their connections run deep, rooted in the value of quality time.
It makes every summer different with new milestones to celebrate together. And it’s so nice not to have to chase the kids around to put on their life jackets anymore. Yet the best things never change, like great conversations around the campfire, the swing on the giant tree, fishing off the dock, post-dinner walks to the Kawartha Dairy, fresh fish dinners and afternoons spent reading. Heaven.
I cannot wait to read an entire book start to finish, canoe to the lily pads, watch the boats I dream of owning go through the lift lock, and venture to my favourite chip truck. No scheduled plans. Go with the flow.
I’ll start every day hugging my mug of coffee, standing at the edge of the water, gazing out. When the mist of fog evaporates and the expanse of the lake appears, it reaffirms the gratitude I feel for everything and everyone that got me to this moment, on this shore, before this spectacular lake.
Alone but not lonely. Gone, but completely present.
I’ll never take this place for granted, nor this time.