by guest blogger, Deanna Cogdon Miller
Memories of my childhood flooded back to me today as I peeked out the window of our camp and watched our three year old skip through the trees between our place and her grandparents place next door. She looked so little in her lifejacket and saggy-bottomed bathing suit as she made her way past my in-laws and to our friend's place beyond theirs. Even now I can't help but smile as I think about the spring in her step and how genuinely happy she was feeling at that particular moment.
As a child, I spent my summers visiting my grandparents at their cottages in Ontario. We'd head to Northern Ontario where we'd spend time swimming, fishing, boating, trying to catch chipmunks, picking blueberries and sitting around the campfire. We'd eat cheesies from special plates, draw all kinds of crazy pictures in the book everyone signed in the outhouse and sneak chocolate rosebuds from the cupboard whenever we could. We'd then visit my Granny and Gumpa in Muskoka and spend more time swimming, playing on the beach, canoeing and sneaking onto the golf course to hunt for golf balls. I remember huge thunderstorms, fresh baked chelsea buns in the morning, watching my grandparents swim the same square pattern from the dock twice a day and the five dollar bill and box of Smarties my great aunt would give us when we got there.
It's no coincidence that I married someone who grew up spending his summers at a lake near his home. His were filled with waterskiing, playing kick the can, campfires, building forts in the woods, biking down the road and making Jiffy Pop over a propane stove. Unlike my weeklong visits to Ontario, he'd spend his entire summer there with his friends who were in the neighbouring cottages.
Flash forward 20-25 years and they're all still there, only now everyone has kids of their own and we're all creating the same kinds of memories for our kids that we cherish about our own childhoods. On any given weekend there are about 12 kids around the lake, all under the age of 12. They happily spend every summer weekend without electricity and running water – relying on propane appliances and lights, compost toilets and drinking water brought from home. I find myself wondering what's going to stick out in their minds about the lake as they get older – will it be swimming, boat rides, making s'mores, waterskiing or jumping off the diving rock? It could be the annual Washers tournament, the fireworks their Dads put off at the end of the summer, rides on the party raft, roasting sugar Timbits over the campfire, playing Mantracker in the woods or having baths in the lake or sink. One thing is for sure – spending their days outside playing with great friends will always be top of mind, rivaled only by the incredible feeling of freedom they must have as they spend their days running between seven cottages with adults who love them behind every door.
As I tucked our three year old into bed tonight she let out a huge sigh and said, "This is the worst day ever." I asked her what she meant and she said, "I was having so much fun at the lake and now we have to be home." My sentiments exactly.
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