My Sweet Escape

Two Sundays ago I sat sweltering in our living room unable to escape the 44 degree Celsius weather outside.  The husband and I considered driving to a lake nearby before we remembered that our car broke down the day before two hours prior to attending a wedding. And considering we live in a boring suburb with minimal bus service we weren’t about to rely on public transportation to get us anywhere.

So I sulked.

“I want to get out of this city soooo bad!!!”

That evening I prayed one of my whimsical prayers that someone would just invite us to a cottage freeing us from the city heat.

The next day I got a text from my friend Sarah in Toronto.

“I know you’re probably both working, but my parents rented a cottage halfway between both of us and I’m up here for the week. If you have the time, feel free to come.”

“YEEEESSS!” I responded. “We will BE there!”

I work two jobs; one Mon-Wed and the other Thurs-Fri. I knew I couldn’t get out of job #1 because I had rearranged my schedule the week prior when husband’s parents came to visit. However I decided not to worry about getting time off work and considered this instead an answer to prayer. Of course it would work out! On Tuesday morning’s conference call for job #2 I began the conversation by saying I wouldn’t be in that week. As a casual employee, there’s a little more leniency when it comes to time off. Not a problem, they said. YEAH!

And so Wednesday evening Simon picked me up from work and we drove to a beautiful cottage on Oak Lake.

I told Simon on the drive down, “I just can’t wait to be buoyant!”

He put his hand on my knee and asked me lovingly, “When’s that going to happen?”

I responded with a laugh, “As soon as I get in the water!”

He looked at my quizzically.

“Buoyant.” I repeated. “Like, I just can’t wait to float.”

“Ohhhh,” he said.

“Did you think buoyant meant joyful?” I asked.

“Yeeeeah,” he replied sheepishly.

Not surprising, considering how down in the dumps I’ve been lately, and how on the same Sunday I prayed for a cottage I told Simon how much I missed my hometown friends.

We arrived at nearly 10pm and I was dying for the time in the lake. I love the lake. And I missed an entire summer last year of lake swimming. Not once did I jump of a dock or lounge around in a floaty. Thankfully Sarah and I are almost always on the same wavelength.

“Want to go swimming?!” she asked.

“Yes!!” I said. And the return to buoyancy commenced.

The next day we slept in, spent hours in the lake, went for a boat ride, ate delicious food, sat in stillness, read books, and played Settlers of Catan – twice. It was glorious.

On our drive home on Friday we talked about how necessary it is to unplug – no phone, no computer, no internet, no distractions, and ultimately, nothing to do. It’s an amazing feeling, and one I’ve gone way too long without. I don’t know if I’m just getting old and grey, but sometimes city life is just too much for me. I need a quiet, restful place. I need the lake. I need my friends – the ones who have known me for years. I look forward to settling down in a community, and gasp – we never thought we’d say this! – one outside of the city.

And that, my friends, was my sweet escape. I didn’t even take a picture – I was too busy enjoying the moments.

You Know You’re Old When…

I made a discovery during my week at the cottage. In fact, all of us ladies did.

We’re old.

We don’t feel old, and we certainly don’t look old! I still get asked if I’m a recent high school graduate. But our week at the cottage indicated otherwise. We’re old.

We were 15 and 16 years old during our first camping expedition. Every year that followed was probably sillier than the last. In Year One we capsized a kayak while trying to dock it in choppy waters at the mouth of a cave so we could go cliff jumping. In Year Two that kayak became a canoe, and my shorts are probably still somewhere at the bottom of Mazinaw Lake. Thankfully Sarah rescued her shorts before they sunk…with the car keys stuffed in the pocket.

Year Three is where it got really interesting. Our numbers increased to 10, so we had to book two campsites. Since the other half of our team wasn’t arriving until later in the week, the five of us decided to create a welcome banner that we strung between two trees. Each campsite was given a tribal name and symbol, and we bestowed Indian names upon one another based on a character quality or attribute. We were required to use these names in place of our real ones for the duration of the week. Mine was “Pees-in-Lake.”

Last year we played a game called “The Lake Alarm.” The winner of our Quelf challenge earned the rights to ring the Lake Alarm at any time of the day. As soon as that alarm rang, we had to stop what we were doing, run to the dock and jump in the water. Anyone who failed to comply was thrown in the lake.

I could go on and on about our adventures in various lakes, campsites, and cottages, but it wasn’t until this year that things really changed. So much so, that one night around the dinner table we played a game of, “You know you’re old when…” as it related to our cottage experience.

You Know You’re Old When…

  1. You can only eat two smores before you feel sick. I used to be able to put away 7, 8, even 9 smores like there was no tomorrow. Two was a record this year.
  2. Only 1 night out of 7 you manage to stay up past midnight.  And it’s only because we were waiting for the smore hangover to wear off.
  3. You see kids jumping off a bridge into the lake right beside a sign that reads “No Bridge Jumping” and you exclaim, “These kids are awful! Don’t they know they could get killed? Where are their parents?!” May I remind you of the cliff jumping in the choppy waters by the cave?
  4. The flotation devices get better and better each year. Forget about water wings and life jackets. This time we had loungers complete with a drink holder. Cold beer + a good book = relaxing on the water for hours.
  5. You trade in the hot dogs and KD for gourmet meals. Picture this: angel hair pasta with goat cheese, bruschetta chicken with provolone and prosciutto wrapped asparagus, Thai green curry, pulled pork sandwiches with homemade sweet potato fries…the list goes on. It’s a wonder we could even walk at all.
  6. You bring your cat to the cottage and give her daily injections to ensure optimal organ function. ‘Nuff said.

And finally, at the end of the week it was clear to us that we’re old when the cottage was cleaned and we were packed up and ready to go before our estimated time of departure. That’s a sure sign of maturity, people.