Wednesday, May 25, 2011

On The Lake

As Canadians we are fortunate to have an abundance of lakes with approximately 9% of the total area in Canada covered by freshwater. Growing up in Ontario I had the opportunity to 'head up north to cottage country' and enjoy some of the prettiest lakes.

Although our family didn't have a cottage, my Father's best friend Paul did...... and we spent many weekends at his tranquil place in the Kawartha lakes.
I will always remember the first time we visited the cottage and driving through the winding roads among the tree's at night, loading all of us in the boat and traveling across the lake in the dark. It was a bit difficult to decide if I really liked this 'cottage thing', well until the next morning that is. My Sister and I woke and went outside with our Father where we discovered the fun that was waiting at the end of the dock.
The image of the beautiful tree's reflecting back off of the water is something that I will forever recall.

The cottage was simple and snuggled among the tree's on the private island. Many of the properties on the lake are accessible only by boat, which provided a wonderful sense of isolation. I think it was here that I discovered how exquisite it is to be surrounded by silence.

My Mother was not as adventurous in the water or boat; when she woke that first morning at the lake and couldn't see us on the dock she panicked. She was reassured that my Sister and I were swimming right at the end of the dock at arms length from our Dad. And then she discovered that the depth of water at the end of the dock was a quick 35 foot drop. The panic returned.

The cottage was a new experience for me and I loved it.
The first summer that we visited the indoor washroom had not been built and it made me nervous to go to the little outhouse tucked back behind the cottage in the thick volume of trees. It seemed dark and I imagined that there were bears in the woods. I always made my Mother go there with me.
My Father and his friend Paul worked on an addition to the cottage which included an indoor washroom and another bedroom. They built a new dock and outlined the shore with boulders.
My Mom would cook big breakfasts with pan fried potatoes and tomatoes, eggs and loads of toast. She would cook meatloaf dinners with potatoes and press homemade burgers for the grill. It was all about comfort food. I'm sure it seemed like a weekend of cooking and washing up for my Mom, but she seemed to love the tranquility as well.

Years later I watched as people began to build the 'ultimate cottage'. Some of the retreats are as big or bigger than their city homes and are finished with details that evoke a different image from the little lakeside spot that charmed us. And although I want comfort and style, there is something about the simplicity of things that makes it a real cottage.

Two of my former bosses put together their own comfortable retreats on a pretty lake in the Muskoka region of Ontario.  The cottages were featured in top Canadian decorating magazines, they each evoked a sense of coziness with style.

This was once a little A frame cottage before the addition.

The main living area of the 'new A frame' cottage features built-in window benches that offers a view of the lake from every window. This cottage has a more polished look; but the cotton fabrics, abundance of loose cushions, and wooden floors provides an easy living style.

and on the same lake............ a different look........... from the other 'former boss' and friend .........

Visiting this cottage with the wrap around screened-in porch was a treat, especially for dining in a bug-free space. The original building was a main open kitchen/living area with two small bedrooms. The addition expanded the cottage adding a master retreat with stone and wood finishes.
The main living area featured the number one item on my list of 'must haves', a stone fireplace. Keep the dishwasher and the soaker tub, but for me the treat of relaxing up north is the comfort of a roaring fireplace along with the sound of the crackle of the fire.

The mix of old, refurbished and new all mingled with texture is what makes a cozy cottage. Wood and stone, scratched surfaces, soft cottons with layered wool blankets on top; open cabinets with dishes that don't match and yet speak the about the same dinner stories from so many tables.......... these are the reflections of my ideal cottage. 

Painted wooden floors and re-vamped tub and sink are simply perfect.

I can't think of a better way to dine than with the tree's all around you. No matter what meal you are taking, you will be sure to enjoy it with a view like this.

A great place to relax, snooze, play a game of cards and even watch a storm.

Keep it really simple and bright........... paint it white.


Accessories and accents are easy with refurbished pieces painted, and items from the dock and shoreline.

With a fresh cottage season starting and a summer of fun ahead, there are so many warm and comforting thoughts of the times we spent together at the lake.

For everyone who is cottaging this season, enjoy a safe summer.

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18 & 19. houseandhome  

1 comment:

  1. Donna Buchanan McGheeMay 25, 2011 at 10:37 PM

    Thanks for the memories, I remember us sleeping in the same bed hearing strange noises, falling asleep huddled together. But it was all ok because my sister was right beside me. love ya d