By DEBBIE MacLEAN
What is that prompts a person to defy all logic and make a move that means longer commutes to work over rough roads as a pre-teen child cries foul play watching her social life confined by distance from her urban mecca?
I casually offered to write my story about choosing to live year 'round in a cottage setting as part of a friendly exchange with an old schoolmate who lives right in the urban heart of Toronto. But writing about why I've chosen this path is not as easy at it sounds.
I've come to the conclusion that my choice to live year 'round in a house by the lake is about living life in context. It is about who I was, who I am now and who I want to be in the future.
I grew up in the country and while I hated the isolation and distance from friends, I also had freedom to roam through natural forest and farmland settings through dusty summers and crystal cold winters where I developed an incurable habit of stargazing. I spent my teen years and early twenties in towns and cities as I trekked forward in my education and struck out on my own. I loved the opportunities and entertainment and independence of many circles of friends which can only be found in larger, more anonymous city settings. But eventually I wandered home to a small northwestern Ontario town where I married and had my child.
That is who I was.
It was a wonderful summer vacation at a rented lakeside cabin that made my husband and I yearn for it to last all year long. All it took was one long look at the truckload of "stuff" we managed to cart out over that one week to convince us it would be easier just to combine house and cottage into one and buy a year-round residence by a lake.
After a lot of road wear and months of negotiating on a private deal we secured a slightly dog-eared, absolutely beautiful "view of the lake" house and property where we've lived for more than five years now. It brings us solitude, peace and rejuvenation and time to talk to our pre-teen because she's not out roaming the town with friends she would much rather be with than us. We do make a point of driving her to her friends’ and bringing them out to her and with the Internet chat line that she's glued to, and the satellite dish that brings in the world, she admits she's not totally neglected.
I'm completely enjoying my family and my surroundings. Our house is still dog-eared and is begging for an update. We'll get to it in between driving to work and to school as we beat our vehicles to bits on the rough roads - except in the winter when we can take advantage of the ice road I've come to love because it cuts major time off the run to town and I have half the frozen lake to skid and brake and transport trucks don't go there - yes!
That is who I am now.
So that brings me to the future. Is living year 'round in the cottage all I dreamed it would be? Is this something I can see lasting? I say yes because we're living our lives in context. We enjoy the natural beauty of the countryside, the recreation of the lake and the constantly unfolding panorama of birds and wildlife and trees and wildflowers that are an everyday part of life at the lake. It fits with our past, it fits with our present and I can see it, and us, forming as it fits to our future.
Does this mean I want to tuck myself away from all that is urban and fast-paced? Just the opposite is true. I find that living life full time in a vacation setting frees me to plan my vacation time now not as a way of getting away from something, but as a way of going to something. It frees me to explore new places, to enjoy cities and towns and oceans in other parts of the world. It's living life in context and I recommend it to anyone who feels something is missing when they are away from natural settings.
That is who I want to be in the future - maybe I'll meet you there!
Photo courtesy Mike Savoy