Cottages Provide A Sense Of Place

First of all, I have to apologize for this post. I wrote what I thought was a brilliant post, and managed to delete it before I published…so what follows is less spontaneous, but what I can remember of what I had written…sorry…I’m just like that…no editing, I write once, from the heart and hit publish….anyway, here goes…

I ran into an old buddy of mine today, someone I haven’t seen for probably ten years. He and I spent many summers together on the same lake our families had cottages on.

I’m still on the lake, as my Dad passed the family cottage to me, and I continue to go there regularly, but alas my buddy wasn’t so lucky, and his family cottage ended up being sold several years ago. So of course it wasn’t anytime before we were talking about the old days, fishing, hunting, and boats on the lake.

We reminisced about the old timers who were none to keen on a couple of young fellas showing up at their hidden little salmon fishing pool, but over time they grew to like us, or at least tolerate us, and we all became pretty good friends. It was as we were talking, that I realized how much I missed him. How different it was not seeing him go by in his boat, or our infrequent get togethers with his first wife and mine…(we both traded our first ones in….) I also realized how the place hasn’t been quite the same without him. I remember several occasions being across the lake, fishing at the salmon hole, lonely and half scared, as July fog encircled me and the lake, only to have him show up, out of nowhere, and often late, ready to fish until dark. We had to cross about a mile of lake to reach the salmon hole, which could be a long run in the fog. I also clearly remember the two of us huddled at the top of the run waiting in the pooring rain for a thunder storm to pass so we could head home, back across the lake. That night it was very dark before we got home.

It was clear talking to him, that he missed the cottage and the lake, and it was kind of sad, to think of it that way. You can have all the expensive mansions, motorhomes and so on, but you cannot replace the “sense of place” that comes from a cottage, particularly a cottage on a lake. Lakes instill something in a person, particularly when that person grows up around them, and whatever that ‘something’ is, it never leaves you. That was obvious talking to my buddy, who remarked several times, “I miss it down there”

Of course, not everyone has that sense of place that I am talking about, but many do, and I have seen it in some of my neighbors and friends who have places near mine. I have also seen it in my oldest daughter who, when we arrived at the cottage for the first Friday night of the spring a couple of years ago, “ahhh…it smells like the camp….” It was then I knew the cottage had her hooked as badly as it had me, hooked on the smell, the feeling, the experience, which I call, ‘the sense of place’

No matter what, or where she ends up, she will always have a soft spot in her heart for the cottage, and the lake, and the days she spent there, growing up. I know, because I have the same feelings and know the smell she is talking about. Although I wouldn’t really call it “home” because, well, home is different. It is ‘home’ in so many ways. The cottage, and cottage life, has a lot to do with my identity, perhaps too much sometimes. I have turned down opportunities because I don’t want to be too far from “the camp.”

Now, on the eve of Spring, as all my thoughts turn to the camp, and I look forward to the upcoming days, I often think about the my sense of the place, and how I want to be there. Today meeting Gary, reminded me of that.

The good news is, he is looking for a place to buy on the lake, I so hope he finds one for his sake and for mine….

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3 thoughts on “Cottages Provide A Sense Of Place”

  1. What a wonderful story – I hope your friend is able to make it back to the lake with you. I understand the “sense of place”. I loved my dad’s cottage growing up – but alas he sold it before it could be passed on. I’m happy to say I was able to build my log cabin less than 10 miles away from our family’s old place and I feel like I’m home again. Shell

  2. Shell
    I think your return to the area of your Dad’s cottage says all I was trying to say about a sense of place…..
    Thank you

  3. This is a fun site, thanks for creating it. As someone who was a lifelong cottager in Canada until I moved far away, I understand what you’re trying to express. I say ‘you can take the girl out of the cottage, but you can’t take the cottage out of the girl’. For many years from when I was a wee babe to my mid twenties, I enjoyed my family and cottage life (usually together). But growing up, eventually my grandparents sold their beloved cottage, my parents sold our family cottage, and finally I moved away to the southern States to be with the man who became my husband. That move left a cottage-sized hole in my heart that never healed. Fortunately, my story takes a happy turn – 3 years ago my brother (still in Canada) and I jointly purchased a cottage on the same lake my grandparents once owned on, and it has become the new seat of the family. My parents visit, hubby and I make the pilgrimmage several times a year, and we all stay in touch regularly hashing over cottage stories. I rest easier at night knowing a sacred place in the world is mine once again, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It is my true home.