True North Strong and Free

Having spent most of July in the Big Apple, it was a welcome escape this week to get to the cottage deep in the forest of the Ottawa Valley. For my family growing up and for my husband and kids, the cottage is a biggest part of what defines summer.

As we pack our bags to head back to New York, I am smiling at the thought of some favorite “only at the cottage moments.” This week’s reminders took place early in the morning when the thick mist lifted from the lake, late at night as I was falling asleep and could hear the raindrops on the tin roof, in the all-about-life chatter first thing in the morning that stops abruptly when people turn to their books to finish a chapter, as the wind meandered through the trees while I was sitting on the swing and with the buzz of the hummingbirds as they drop by the feeders.
I’m not sure whether everyone realizes it yet, but the days of NO TV at the COTTAGE are long gone. This week, among 18 of us, there are 3 iPads, 5 iPods and 4 laptop computers. There were more Olympics watched here this year than ever before. Peak usage came when the Canada vs. US Women’s soccer game was streamed on three different devices. Funniest thing was that none of the streams were at the same point in the game, so the cheering and yelling was a little off. All of the cousins were surprised how clearly we could see and hear Sarah from India. It was almost as clear as the 100-metre final that all 25 of us gathered and missed as we were watching TSN instead of CTV. Not to worry though, we heard the results after they were posted to someone’s Facebook and we watched the replay 30 seconds later.
The dogs got into the action too. With a cottage full of young new dogs this year, there was the odd tussle to determine the top dog, but the two-year-old little girl, Brynn, was the most dominant as she persuaded the dogs to go down the playground slide.
The major project this year paid homage to the swings. Three now instead of two, the swings sport a new wood frame and they are flanked by a spiffy stone patio. The prominence of this renovated area was shown when the ritual cigar-smoking was held there to replace the usual around-the-fire life-as-we-know-it event.
All in all, here’s how it went…with Sarah not here, Julie has the best tan and I am well on the way to winning the cribbage tournament. Kate waterskied for the first time, Matthew and Teddy learned to play Euchre, and Scott, Adam, Gabe and Vikas learned how to play LOUD Monopoly. Mom read the most books and played enough games of UNO for all of us. Heather learned the most from reading “informative” magazines.  Brynn was the dancing pink princess in the middle of a room with an audience of many.
Karen watched and read enough articles about the Olympics for all of us and she and Scott kept us up to date. Dad after all these years has earned the right to be the last out of bed, never too late to feed the dogs though. Matthew, Connor, Scott, Adam and Gabe tubed for hours on end around and around, always with someone different winning the day. Kevin went tubing too and even fell in, but he is still the best boat spotter there is. Vikas and Julie were the adults that went wakeboarding, proving that the adults can do anything that the kids can do.
Steven and Julie led the hikes in the woods, and I climbed up the steepest hill of my life! Gabe led the pack for eating sugary cereal and the year’s quota was more than consumed. We learned this morning that Brynn can ALMOST pour her own milk and Gabe finds this hilarious. Steven and Todd were the barbequers supreme with Todd cooking the beef for the PIG ROAST (a long story) and Steven taking on the day-to-day meals for 20.
One of the highlights of the week was our lunch at Taste Funatic in Calabogie, an event that reminded us to savour the deliciousness of basic ingredients in food, in life and with family. It is A Sharmed Life!
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