Ontario’s civic holiday weekend at the beginning of August is history. Half of the summer is over which leaves only 4 to 6 weeks to enjoy summer treats. Days are shorter. This is a good time to consider the pleasures of summer — yes, some of these pleasures feel guilty — others, bring no guilt!
Guilty pleasures are usually considered ‘secret ways’ to enjoy oneself. Sometimes a guilty pleasure involves shame or embarrassment. This is not true of my summer pleasures. My list isn’t full of embarrassment. Nor does it include pleasures to keep hidden from others. There’s nothing shameful on the list. Rather, these are things I enjoy every summer while relaxing at the cottage.
Here’s a picture of one of my favourite summer places — my cottage deck. It’s a bit stark as it was taken early in the season. I don’t have enough sun for pots of flowers and herbs get eaten by deer who roam through the yard. This deck is where I spread my yoga mat and do morning exercises. It’s a lovely shady spot where we eat most summer meals and indulge in cold treats.
Sangria is the 2019 summer drink of choice — some white wine, some red wine, a bit of vodka and lots of strawberries and citrus slices. Other cold treats include various flavours of ice cream and gelato as well as brightly coloured popsicles with our grandchildren.
I love my cottage garden — lots of perennials that thrive in the shade. Here are a couple of shots of the hostas and hydrangeas. There’s not much fussing required except for spreading woodchips occasionally.
While at the cottage, I feel no guilt over wasting time daydreaming nor having a long conversation with my husband after lunch or dinner. If it’s a rainy day, we binge-watch Netflix shows. Meals include lots of barbecued foods as cooking on the back deck is easier and cooler than cooking in the kitchen. We go to a butcher in the nearby village of Hensall, Ontario for perfectly marbled steaks and fresh lamb chops or we visit the fish market for yellow perch freshly caught in Lake Huron. Because of the late spring planting, we haven’t seen any Ontario corn at the local market but have enjoyed several baskets of summer beans, yellow zucchini, and green pea pods. The Ontario strawberries have been plentiful this year as they have benefitted from the abundant spring rains; the same applies to beautiful cherries and summer melons that are coming from Niagara. Sometimes, the dinner menu is decadent with grilled hotdogs loaded with relish, mustard, and pickled peppers!
We are fortunate to have several small summer theatres nearby including the Huron Country Playhouse and the Blyth Festival Theatre. Blyth is famous for showcasing new plays. Of course, we make excursions to see at least one Shakespeare play at Stratford. This year, we’ve chosen Othello but won’t see it until later in August. Our visits to Stratford involve picnicking on the bank of the Thames with sandwiches, iced tea, and homemade cookies.
Summer is a time for reading. I’m working on the list of books for the next 10 months as chosen by one of my book clubs. I hope that I’ll remember what I’ve read when we discuss the books! An excellent spot for reading is on my beach chair at our beautiful Sun Beach. My ‘beach’ reading means choosing something that absorbs the mind yet doesn’t need too much thinking — no heavy non-fiction political or sociological books! Sun beach is also my place for people watching, for engaging with cottage neighbours, and for swimming in the lovely cool and clear water of Lake Huron.
A particular summer pleasure is watching my grandchildren learn cottage routines and absorb the culture of cottage life. Children benefit from the relaxed lifestyle at the cottage. Rules are more flexible. This past weekend, we watched a mother raccoon move her babies from a giant oak tree in the park across the road. We watched fireflies flickering in the darkness as we walked back to the cottage after watching a Lake Huron sunset. We stared at the moon over the lake and marvelled at the galaxies in the dark night sky uncontaminated by city lights.
These and many other cottage activities bring happiness. Any guilt over summer pleasures comes from knowing that the days pass too quickly. My summer projects remain largely untouched. Perhaps the lesson is not to try to complete any projects — rather, to enjoy the beautiful days and take things as they come. Why does summer last only a few months?
Thanks for reading my post. I hope that every reader is enjoying a good amount of summer pleasure!