As you read this, I will be relaxing at a cottage cradled in the Laurentian hills in Quebec. The lake on which the cottage is situated, called Lac Corbeau, is cold and deep and has steep, densely-wooded slopes running around the outside.
As you swim across the ancient mountain lake, you can’t help but feel impossibly tiny and insignificant compared to the depth of the history of the area. The mysteries your imagination fires off about what might be buried beneath the black water tend to be somewhat alarming.
One of the perks that came with marrying into my husband’s family is access to this cottage.
It’s rustic. The cold-only water comes straight from the lake and needs to be boiled (we bring bottled water for drinking or use an ionizer); bathrooms don’t exist – you go in an outhouse (occasionally inhabited by dock spiders) or in the bush; the cottage is 50 meters down some steep log-and-dirt steps from the parking area; if you want to bathe, you do so in the lake. Thankfully, the cottage has had electricity and telephone access for some time now, but it didn’t always.
I love it.
Yes, the size of the spiders makes me squirm and I get far too much exercise from all the swimming, canoeing, walking and hiking up and down the steps. There’s no television, which means I will have to skip True Blood (for two Sundays in a row! Gah! How am I going to survive??). Thank God for PVRs.
I’m usually forced to play games with my kids and other adults, which is truly a hardship. I wish that was sarcasm. I seriously loathe playing board games, card games, games of every sort, really… I can’t remember a time when this hasn’t been the case. Every minute I spend playing a game – Oh lawdy – even thinking about playing a game, is a minute spent being subjected to mind-numbing torture. Sitting at a table, taking turns, waiting… waiting… waiting for people to make their moves… it all makes me feel jittery, nauseous, extremely irritable, impatient and out of control.
The sleep is blessed. Your head hits the pillow at 9PM and you wake up in the morning being baked by the sun, but ultimately refreshed.
Sometimes I even get to nap. I know! Whaaaat?
The air intoxicates me – it’s uncomplicated, earthy and totally clean.
You can go for a walk with the kids and bring home a bucket full of whichever berries are in season at the time.
The places to explore are absolutely unlimited.
The children have so much freedom and thrive and learn so much.
Time at the cottage is like pushing the “reset” button on all your vices. You relearn how to listen to your body.
We’re motivated to eat fresh and healthy foods – raw fruits and vegetables, granola, yogurt, nuts, eggs… and you just snack all day.
You come home from the cottage with a new appreciation for everything you have, and also a realization that all your precious acquisitions aren’t nearly as important as you thought they were.
You remember that what’s important is spending time with your kids. It’s an easy thing to forget when there are so many chores to do, so many blogs to write, so many memories to organize, and whole futures to plan.
There is absolutely nothing that can teach you how to live in the here and now, like spending time at the cottage.