We are in the midst of autumn and the world around us is transforming into a work of art with the changing colours of the deciduous trees amongst a background of evergreens. The splendid array of golds, reds, and oranges of this season is a reminder of what is next to come.
Along with the beauty and aromatic smells of fall comes the whisper of winter. What does this mean for some cottagers? For many of us, this becomes a time of preparations for wintering and closing our cottages. These tasks may invoke feelings of sadness and disappointment in how fast the summer flew by and the end of another cottage season.
Many of us think about the loss of the season and what we think dictates how we feel, so perhaps by transforming our thoughts of loss into thoughts of celebration and planning, we can begin to feel joy for the privilege of owning a cottage and the blessings that come with this privilege.
So how do we keep the cottage life spirit alive and well throughout the winter season for those of us who do not have access?
1. Planning events and celebrations
Summer is an exciting time to gather friends and family together at the cottage to enjoy the sunshine, water sports, delicious food, and drink! Planning family reunions, birthdays and long weekends at the cottage is a great method of keeping the spirit alive. This past summer we were honoured to attend a wedding celebration on Go Home Lake at a beautiful venue at the marina and with amazing food from a Go Home Lake resident. As well this year, we planned a communal Thanksgiving Dinner with our cottage neighbours — pilgrim style. All of us were even able to problem solve when the hydro went out for 10 hours and we had to use our barbecues to prepare our feast and we still had time to go on an amazing walk on a nearby trail.
My husband and I typically like to plan the coming year’s calendar and organize birthdays and weekends with family. We also talk with our friends and family and discuss what company we are having during specific weeks/weekends. This planning keeps us focused on our cottage as we organize the coming season and look forward to getting away to our sanctuary once the snow and ice melts.
2. Renovations and improvements
As you may know, owning a cottage comes with responsibilities to repair, renovate and maintain our vacation homes. Further, we have a boat access cottage, so there are tasks surrounding maintaining and winterizing water vessels. My husband and I discuss what needs to be done and we plan every year on one or two items to focus on.
In saying this, I must admit it’s fun to dream about what we would like to do if we had copious amounts of money. These discussions during the winter months also keeps our focus on cottaging and what it necessary for continuing year to year successfully — keeping in mind there are always surprises that come up every year that need immediate attention. This is to be expected and apart of owning a cottage, so learning not to worry out about the “what ifs” is an important stress management tool.
3. Creating a memory book of photographs of the previous year
It’s fun to review the pictures and memories of the past summer. This sparks conversation and memories that can be reflected upon over the winter. There are so many ways so capture these memories, such as scrapbooking or creating an album on the year gone by — highlights and special moments you captured and want to remember. These are great activities to do during the cold months of the winter and a great place to take your mind transforming the thought of “loss” to “celebrating memories”. This activity can be done as a family in order to teach our children how fortunate they are to have such a special place to spend the summer months.
4. Visiting cottage friends and neighbours during the winter months
My husband and I feel very fortunate in having wonderful cottage neighbours on our lake. We spend a great deal of time with them during the summer months. And this is the time of year, we all become busy working on closing our cottages to return to our various parts of the province awaiting a new cottage season. We have found that by staying in contact with our neighbours during the winter and even meeting for dinner from time to time, is a wonderful way to stay in touch and keep the cottage life spirit alive. We take time to discuss the summer past as well as the upcoming cottage season and in this way, we stay connected. We all share a unique bond of common interests and special cottage memories. These people are our cottage family and we are truly blessed.
So let us accept the end of a season, revel in all the joy it brought us, and plan for the coming year while keeping our cottage family connections alive and well. Most of all, let’s show gratitude and thanks for being fortunate enough to be able to own a cottage, and in turn, be able to share this with others creating memories that last a lifetime.