This time of year I think of the summer homes I’ve had through my life. Most of us have fond childhood memories of a cottage, cabin or camp where summers stretched lazily out with family and friends, picnics and swimming, campfires and bunkbeds, or maybe tents and sleeping bags.
I grew up in a collection of family cottages in the Eastern Townships of Quebec where my grandfather gathered his clan every summer. I played with about 20 cousins in the sandpile, the lake, the woods and brooks. We put on plays, went berry picking, had tennis tournaments and huge potluck suppers. The usual large family dynamics were background sound but we didn’t pay much attention – it was all childhood at its best.
When my son was of cottage age, we spent many more summers north of Toronto in a little bay with a few cottages, each with its own dock and a boat or two. The people and scenery were different but the sense of the place was very much the same, time elongated and nothing to do but be. There were summer books to read, hikes through the woods, sundown boat rides and trips to the local village when the spirit moved. Friends came to add novelty and purpose to our long days, and there were always summer projects that needed doing or at least that’s how it seemed.
Looking back, I realize how fortunate I was to have these homes away from home, places designed for play, for enjoying the wonders of summer. Because I moved a lot as a child, and kept up this pattern of relocating every few years as an adult, these summer homes were the anchor in my life, the stable base of family and friends to which I returned time and again to rest and relax and refresh from the pace of city life.
Where have you spent your summers? Were you lucky enough to have a summer home as a child? Or maybe you went camping to a favourite spot… What role did these homes away from home play in your young life? And how have those experiences been reflected in your adulthood? I’d be interested in your reflections if you’re willing to share them.