I started writing this blog post as I sat in a cottage in Muskoka, listening to the conversations of the 3 pairs of parents that were up, sitting around the large dining room table having breakfast. Listening to them talk and laugh and relax was one of the sights I don’t get to see very often, as they hardly come together and socialize and spend a few days together with friends, relaxing by the lake or canoeing with each other. I loved that they got to experience it!
Last weekend I visited a beautiful cottage! The last time I had done that was back in 2012 when my boss generously offered me and my family a stay at her beautiful little cottage right in the heart of Muskoka – what a beautiful stay that was and it was an introduction which got my family hooked to cottaging for the long run! I believe since then my family has been cottaging a bunch of time, and this time, last weekend, we went as a huge crowd of 20, rented 2 large cottages and had an amazing time.
Cottaging is one of those things that everyone has to try at least once! I say this because it is vital for our health to get away from our daily lives every now and then, to recharge in a new place, to move away from the constant hustle and bustle of buzzing phones, pinging emails, vibrating video game controllers, and the general hubbub of our daily busy lives. And cottaging is perfect for when you can’t travel to a faraway destination because of time commitments and large trip costs, as it can be done with more people to share the expenses, and done from anywhere to a weekend to several days.
Ontario is a great province for cottaging – it’s many small towns and lakes north of here provide a great big backyard to Toronto and the GTA. In the summer, when it’s hot and humid in the city, swimming in a lake, or kayaing by yourself and feeling the wind flow through you, is exactly the thing that one needs to relax. Cottaging, whether in the summer or winter, is a sure way to spend good quality time with family or friends, because the commotion of life that surround us normally becomes bare, and it is easier to unwind and simply enjoy the company surrounding you, including your own company.
One of my favourite things we did on this trip (actually, two things), was that once during the evening, after a long lazy nap, we went to a bonfire the cottage place provided and lit a great big bonfire, roasting corn on the cob and marshmallows. Some of us tried making smores, while others lost their delicious marshmallows to the blazing fire. The rest of us rode around on bicycles that were provided by the cottage and that’s something that I haven’t done since I was a kid. I’m so glad bicycling is one of those things which you never forget once you learn how to do. It definitely helped in my case.
The second thing which I loved doing was sitting by a little bonfire right by the beach at night, looking up at the hundreds of visible stars, talking and laughing and playing Would you Rather games that could easily lead into the morning hours if not for some people wanting to go back. That night all the young folks came back to the cottage and watched funny videos on TV and played interactive games. The rest of the crowd made breakfast past midnight due to late night munchies, as others wandered off to sleep so they could repeat another great day tomorrow.
What makes cottaging so great is that the place you’re in, the building itself, is so different than the ones we spend most of our lives in. A cottage built with exposed wood throughout, tall ceilings, large living spaces, surrounded by trees and nature with a lake nearby is a true luxury. Watching the sun come up during summer, as the mist fades and the water on the lake becomes visible is an occasion rarely experienced by us city folks. Similar to watching the sun disappear behind tall trees at night, letting the golden whispers of dusk lead to darkness, to a fire lit and stories shared, miles away from people and crowds. It really is an experience more of us should have once every few years if not more often. And not just in the summer but Fall and Winter also (just bring some bug spray!)
I also loved kayaking (my first time!) and going all the way to the other end of the lake and just looking around at the sights and other cottages and how they were built. I showed my dad how to do it the next day and he enjoyed a few hours exploring all the nooks and crannies of the lake too, kayaking without a care in the world. I know one day into the future this will become one of my favourite memories, not to mention waking up early one morning to go canoeing with my mom because it was her birthday and I wanted to spend some quality time with her. Being on the water as our canoe gently swayed and we relaxed is another favourite memory of mine.
And lastly, seeing my brother dive into the lake, sometimes pulling Simona along with him, sometimes pushing my sister who was very reluctant to jump in herself, to me building sand castles with my nephews and helping them float in the water – it was all these things that I and the rest of my family needed in our 4 days away. Next year hopefully, I get to bring my in-laws to experience all this, and introduce them to the little wonders of cottaging.
- Diamond in the Ruff in Muskoka Region – BBQ, beach and boating equipment, life jackets and bonfire were included
- Nights spent: 3 (Friday afternoon to Monday afternoon)
- Money Spent: Approximately $200 per person after divided by 20 people – this includes lodging and food