It’s 6:45am and I am sitting at a table at the lake. I’m never quite sure what to call this place – a cottage makes it seem like more than it is and a camp sounds slightly less than it is. It’s basically a small building on a lake with no running water or electricity and it’s the place where most of our summer memories are made.
As I look around I see bathing suits hung from the railing on the porch. There’s an empty nectarine case on the counter – it was the grab-n-go snack for the kids as they ran around outside yesterday. The little remote control boat that our son likes to drive while sitting on the rocks on the shore is right in front of me on the table. When I look out the window I see the patch of eel grass where the kids and their friends have spent hours catching frogs this summer. Resting on the shore is our big yellow tube – it has provided tons of laughs, screams and stories as the kids have been towed behind our friend’s boat or their grandfather’s jetski pretty much every weekend this summer. There’s a deck of cards piled on the counter from the 7-Up Countdown games our second daughter challenges us to on a daily basis. Sitting by the door is the pack of marshmallows from our campfire last night. The fire pit is still full of chairs and remnants from the eight other friends who joined us for treats and laughs around the fire before the kids went to bed.
As the summer rapidly comes to a close, it’s hard for me not to reflect on everything this place gives us. As two working parents with three kids, we are constantly on the go. For most of the year, our weeks are filled with work, school and evening activities. Weekends are more activities, birthday parties, cleaning and grocery shopping. Everything changes when the summer hits. We’re still working and there are still some commitments during the week for the kids but for the most part, our weekends free up.
When we pack up and head here, it is quality time at its best. The kids have the freedom to walk down the road and visit many of our friends who are also here on the weekends. It’s a little community in the woods where everyone looks out for everyone else’s kids. It’s not unusual for five or six families to decide to barbecue at one place and bring salads to share for supper. I love that our kids hang out with kids their own age, teenagers as well as other kids’ parents and grandparents. They are loved and cared for wherever they roam here. Like many of our friends who have bought tent trailers and spend their weekends camping, it feels like this concentrated time together away from televisions and traffic is one of the best gifts we could ever give our kids.
We’re on vacation right now and parking here for the week. It’s now 7:30 and everyone is awake. After a brief cuddle/ wrestle on the couch with their Dad, the kids are now building Duplo together and playing a make believe game with what they’ve built. They’ve asked if we can go to a playground today. They’ve already talked about catching frogs. We’ve got a game of Junior Scrabble planned.
This is the lake. This is schedule-free family time. This is constant exploring, imaginative play and outside activities. This is my favourite time of the year.
This is why I’m sad when the summer comes to an end.
Deanna is a Mom of three, wife, marketer and blogger – lover of travel, morning coffee, family time, belly laughs, good friends and uninterrupted showers! Follow her on twitter @DeannaCMiller