As the summer days gallop past I’ve been thinking about how I’m spending these precious days at the cottage.
In late June, when we typically re-locate the cats and ‘move’ to the cottage, it seemed that summertime would be as endless as the horizon on Lake Huron.
A change of routine excited me. I looked forward to the relaxed lifestyle in our little beach town. As August arrived I realized that half of the summer is over.
It’s time to take stock.
Have these endless summer days provided the happiness and relaxation that I anticipated? Have my plans progressed as expected?
There’s a slower pace during ‘cottage time’. Nothing special needs to happen but every day feels special — even more so when the sun is shining!
Mornings start late — it’s so quiet that we normally sleep until 9 or 9:30 am. Then it’s time to sit on the deck outside of our bedroom for morning coffee listening to the birds, watching the squirrels and chipmunks, and playing with the cats. Later there will be a leisurely breakfast with some conversation about plans for the day.
I try to make time for exercise every day — either a 5 km beach walk in the sun,or a hike around our cottage area, or swimming, or some yoga.
Exercise is weather-dependent and also energy-dependent. If the sun is not too hot there will be beach time in the afternoon.
Meals are casual. Most food gets cooked on the barbecue. We are trying to eat less meat so I make a lot of salads. Snacks include nuts, veggies, dips, olives, cheese and crackers. On cooler days I bake bread and cookies and muffins to keep the freezer stocked.
The late afternoon signals time for a pre-dinner drink. After dinner it’s time to relax and watch the sunset or read or catch up on emails. And then it’s bedtime and the routine starts again.
Chores don’t go away
As idyllic as this sounds (and it really is quite lovely), there are still beds to make, groceries to buy, meals to prepare, dishes to wash and floors to clean.
A mound of laundry manages to build up just like at home — the usual sheets and clothes augmented by lots of beach towels.
Cleaning bathrooms, dusting, vacuuming and general tidying happens once a week — and only 3 hours are allocated. Otherwise, the housekeeping routines are casual with a ‘pick up’ after yourself philosophy.
Aside from plans to relax in the sun, and the usual weekends of entertaining friends and hosting family gatherings, my 2013 summer plans included various projects.
Every year my husband and I have one ‘do-it-yourself’ project. Construction of a pathway around the back of the cottage and from the back deck to the garden shed had top priority for summer 2013.
I also had personal projects including some self-directed learning to improve technology/blogging skills, teaching myself to knit socks, and reading several novels that had accumulated on my bedside table.
Both of us wanted to attend plays at each of three nearby summer theatres.
Taking Stock of Progress
With half of the summer gone, a few plans/projects are on track but many are incomplete.
At the cottage it’s easy to postpone or delay projects as there are so many diversions. Just this morning, a coffee date with a friend who is dog-sitting at a cottage nearby drew me away from writing this post. Often the beach calls. When it’s raining I lose myself in books and I have finished four of the six novels I brought for summer reading.
The heavy lifting associated with building the pathway is over.
I can now walk around the cottage — and from the back deck to the garden shed without filling my shoes with sand. The pathway looks good — at least to my eyes!
I’ve begun to knit the socks — or rather, I’ve begun knitting one sock. Unfortunately I’ve had to rip the sock several times and begin again. Real sock knitters tell me that it takes an average of 20 hours of knitting to complete a pair of socks. Although I’ve knit for more than 50 hours, I’m still working the first sock of the pair. I am tenacious so I won’t give up — but I fear that September may arrive before completion of both socks!
Regarding my self-directed learning to improve blogging skills, I have begun but find myself distracted by other amusements on the internet. I have opened only one of the several ‘how to’ books that I brought to read. Somehow this project is the one that gets delayed.
Summer theatre is also on hold. There have been overnight guests on most weekends when the smaller theatres run. Unfortunately we have missed some of the productions that we wanted to see because we delayed ordering tickets.
Although there’s been little progress on a couple of my plans, I won’t judge myself too harshly. During July we came back to the city for a few days when I did the reflection at our church during our minister’s absence. Preparation took more time than I planned but overall, the experience was one that promoted spiritual growth — an unexpected benefit!
We have also been blessed with some delightful but unanticipated visits from friends and we have taken every opportunity to visit with our 3 month old grand-daughter. Because relationships rank high as life priorities, I choose to spend my time socializing and not finishing my ‘projects’.
With three weeks left before Labour Day, there is enough time to advance some of the summer plans as well as to nourish my soul. A summer filled with love, relaxation, friends and the beauty of Lake Huron make for happiness in retirement. I am truly blessed!