It Is the Summer of the Cannonball: A Cottage Story

Day 1

This is the fourth summer in a row that we have rented the same cottage near Maynooth, a tiny little town a half hour from Bancroft. It is the most relaxing week of my whole year and it would surprise you how often my mind turns to this week of escape. This week is one hundred percent relaxation and family time, and we forget about all the usual busy-ness and stresses of daily life. Ah. Peace.

Packing for a family of four for a week is never fun, but every time we get a little bit better at it. We print out our list from the computer, which has a column at the top with each of our names. Four bathing suits? Check. Four toothbrushes? Check. We are like a well-oiled machine now getting ready, and this time my only moment of panic was when I lost my list. I needed my list. After searching for a full half hour, I found that it had fallen off the bed and had slid down underneath the drawer under the bed. I only barely kept myself together while I pulled apart the bedroom trying to figure out how it had disappeared. These things happen to everyone, right? Other people are as tied to their lists as I am too, right?

I used to think the best invention for car trips was the portable DVD player, but now I like books on tape even better. After loading up the car and attaching the canoe to the roof, we started up Judy Blume’s Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing. I found myself appreciating this book on a completely different level than when I first read it myself; there is a lot in if for adults to appreciate too, things that had gone over my head when I read it myself as a kid. The poor Mom who had to ask the Dad, “wouldn’t they be more comfortable staying in a hotel?” of the Dad’s clients. Ha.

Poor N gets really car sick though, so the trip to the cottage was painful. We travel everywhere with a bucket in the car. After an hour, N was absolutely green and miserable, and we stopped to give her a rest, pick up some Gravol, then eat some lunch. We had only ever given her Gravol once before when she was around two, and it was in desperation during a trip home from Toronto. The screaming. Oh the screaming. Even with the Gravol, she did not fall asleep, and she was only marginally less miserable after taking the Gravol, so we never bothered again after that. We felt desperate again on this drive, so we gave it another try. And wow. After she had recovered, she was absolutely fine for the rest of the drive. She still didn’t sleep, but she has never been a daytime napper, even as a baby, so that didn’t surprise me. The rest of the trip was uneventful.

Arriving at the cottage was a sweet homecoming. We put away our groceries quickly and then were down by the water in a flash. The water was significantly warmer than last year – last year was the “bummer of a summer” and the lake had been icy. N&B jumped right in and they were off. Cottage week had begun.

Day 2

I woke up this morning to the smell of coffee. I looked out the window and saw Tony down by the water reading, and N casting with her fishing rod off the dock. There is nothing better than this.

Yesterday evening, Tony caught a nice 3 pound small mouth bass. In other years we would have kept it, but this year we decided to let it go. I love fish, but am incredibly squeamish about fishing and gutting and the thought of storing it in our fridge overnight bothers me. Tony could see my face, so he let fishy go. Now I’m thinking about how good a little breakfast fish would taste right now as I write this on this sunny morning down by the water, but it’s OK, that fish will live another happy fishy day.

Day 3

Time slows right down at a cottage. You feel all of the moments. The days, and the week do not fly by for a change. Today I have been watching N&B bond as sisters even more than they usually do at home. They always play well together, but here they play play play like fanatics, with no distractions from the outside world.


There is a cottage next door to here, and the owners there have six-year-old twin girls. They are nice kids, and they play really well with B. But this leads to a problem for us, because N is two years older, and while she will happily play with her younger sister when they are alone, she will go nowhere near if you add another six-year-old to the mix – let alone two of them. I’m at a loss on how to manage this. We come here to be together as a family, and when there is no one else around, that is exactly what happens. But when B sees the other girls, she wants to play with them. We are lucky this year because the family has gone home for the week and will not be back until next weekend when we will be packing up for home, but last year they were here the whole time, and N was SAD. I am even considering looking for a new cottage for next year to get away from this problem, because even when we imposed limits on the amount of time that B could play with the neighbours, N knows that B is still longing for them, and it changed things. Perhaps a more isolated cottage is what we need. I just don’t know what to do. It seems crazy to shake things up because of two sweet six year old girls, and yet that is what might be best.

Playing nicely, and yes, that is a trenchoat

Just before lunch today, N and I played badminton for about half an hour, just the two of us. N usually keeps a lot of things inside, but every now and then when she and I are alone together, she starts to talk and I learn so much about her. Today she talked all about the kids in her class and I was able to understand better the dynamics of her classroom. I love these moments, and I will have to figure out how to keep her talking over the years, because if she doesn’t tell me much at the age of eight, how much will she hold back when she is in high school? She may well be one of those kids who spends her high school years in her bedroom with her door closed. Already her favourite colour to wear is black.

In other news, I think we have picked the best week of the summer to be here. Hot sunny days and cool nights. It is heavenly here and I am r.e.l.a.x.e.d. Alas though, N discovered my Kobo today. She found Anne of Green Gables and English Fairy Tales that it came loaded with, and she is hooked. Now she wants one of her own. This is quite awesome actually.

So, I’m off to eat some Sloppy Joes for dinner. Also known as Joe Sloppys, or Sloppy Janes, around here.

Days 4 and 5

All I need to say about these two days are: sun, read, relax, eat, swim, eat, read, read, read.

Also of note, it is so great to have kids who can run up to the cottage, get into their bathing suits, come back down, get their life jackets on, go for a swim, go for a paddle boat ride, go back up and change out of their wet things, get their own snacks, and entertain themselves for a while. By themselves. Without me having to get up out of my chair. Oh, I do not miss the baby and toddler years.

Day 6

Cooler but sunny today. Today is not my actual birthday, but we are pretending that it is. For the last three years it has worked out that if we come to this cottage for the last week of July, we can celebrate my actual birthday here. The calendar will not be cooperating for the next couple of years however, and this year we will have to travel home on my actual birthday, so I asked my family if we could just pretend today is the day. I was spoiled by everyone and had the best day. Thanks for the steaks and birthday cake, Family!

Day 7

Sad because it’s our last full day here and I am not ready to go home yet. This week has been just bliss because it has fed and recharged my hermit-like soul.

This year this cottage had wireless internet access for the first time, and I wonder if that is cheating, because I have not disconnected myself from Facebook or Twitter or blogs while here. In fact I have sent many Tweets from right down by the water’s edge. I have enjoyed maintaining this connection, and yet I balked at the story I just read about Ontario provincial parks looking at providing WIFI because campers were feeling “disconnected”. Isn’t that the point of camping? But maybe that is the point of cottaging too. I don’t know, but I do know that I enjoyed staying connected, and I didn’t have to suffer any Twitter withdrawal.

Today we do some relaxing, then some cleaning, and then one last campfire and s’mores if the weather permits. Tomorrow I’m back home to reality, but I still have another week of holiday to chill with the girls. Also tomorrow it’s official. I’m 39.


Day 8

We are on the road. We said good-bye to the lake and the cottage and I’m feeling sad because I’m not ready to go home. I asked Tony and N&B if they would be bored if we ever stayed for two weeks instead of one. They said no that they would like to stay, but I’m not really sure if they would last another full week.Too bad because I know that I would.

Final thoughts. It was the summer of the cannonball for N&B. Last year they were still too nervous to jump into deep water. This year, all they did was swim to the floating dock and do one after another cannonball and all sorts of other jumps too. They can also paddle a canoe by themselves, and Tony can barely keep up with them when he follows the canoe in the paddleboat. N can even steer the thing, which I only became competent at myself last summer.

Cannonballs, before the splash

Final final thought? My family is awesome. Thanks to you three for making this the best week of the year. Again.

Tony and me

About Finola

I am an Ottawa area Mom, writer-want-to-be and coffee legend in the making.
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9 Responses to It Is the Summer of the Cannonball: A Cottage Story

  1. Lovely post Finola. Glad you had such a wonderful holiday. 🙂

  2. Cannonballing off the rock!!!You've got me all keyed up now and I can't wait to get to our cottage for the week in mid-August!!! Hope we have weather as good as you guys had.

  3. Capital Mom says:

    You madde me wish we had a cottage.

  4. Finola says:

    Laura, Thank you. It really was wonderful.

    Denise, Enjoy your cottage time. Our weather was perfect and I hope yours will be too!

    Capital Mom, We just rent the same one every year and that suits us just fine. Owning would be a lot of extra work and I can barely maintain one home, let alone two!

  5. gryph says:

    What a lovely vacation, Fin. It sounds like the perfect birthday vacation and recharge. Happy belated birthday, by the way! You're as gorgeous as ever!

    I can't wait for my vacation in mid-August now too. We're going to fly to PEI, which incorporates two of my favourite things – the window seat on a plane and a cottage by the sea. Although the cottage by the lake is also one of my favourite things. 🙂

  6. D. Gillespie says:

    I'm thinking two weeks at your dreamy cottage would be amazing.

    I would sell it to the family. Bribe them with a trip to Bancroft half way through for fast food – whatever you need to do.

  7. Finola says:

    Jennifer, I have thought of doing a PEI cottage vacation one year. Let me know how you enjoy it – sounds wonderful!

    Darcie, Bancroft is a great idea, plus a few more trips to the general store to buy more candy should work too!

  8. XUP says:

    What a perfect-sounding holiday! I wonder if you could solve your neighbour kids problem if the older one was allowed to invite a friend to the cottage for a few days? Or if you all decided to stay 2 weeks then both kids could bring a friend for one week and then you could have one week for family?

  9. Finola says:

    Xup, That is a good idea about the friends. I might just work. Thanks!

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