Monday, January 8, 2018

Of Cottages and Paradise

Sometime about 1970 or so, I overheard my parents talking about buying our humble little cottage in Beachgrove, Quebec. Dad said to the real estate agent something like "Ah, what the hell, life is a gamble!" So their goal for the next few years was to pay off this little two bedroom summer home on the Ottawa River. Not just for them, but for their kids. Us. I found out later in life that it was the reason mom went back to work after raising nine young'ins.
Didn't realize it till now, but what mom and dad modelled to me was that it was worth taking risks for a dream, as humble as that dream was. See, every year we'd rent a cottage for the summer. Dad would spend his 2 weeks holidays lazing about, swimming, drinking beer and wine, fishing, trying like hell to teach me how to operate an outboard motor. But then he'd commute for the rest of the summer so we could stay till the end of August. Tons of good memories growing up on beaches and in the woods as children. Mom and Dad wanted to finally have a summer place to call their own...
Beachgrove was heaven to me. The trunk of Dad's car was a literal Tetris game of cramming in the weekend's supply of food, supplies, and other things, but Dad wasn't all that good at it... or, at least wasn't fast enough for my liking, so I became the official "Trunk Packer". I couldn't wait to get out of town, so this scrawny adolescent would have the car ready in under an hour. I think Dad was proud of me.
Before and after our long summer stay, we'd go for weekends - we did what we had to to get there before Friday nightfall, and sulk when we had to pack up to go home on Sunday. Life on the Ottawa River in our rustic little cottage was paradise.
I'm still not sure I can operate an outboard motor, but I can pack up a vehicle like nobody's business.
Some irony: I used to despise having to come home from high school right after class (and miss extra band practice, etc.) to babysit the younger ones till mom got home from work. At the time, I didn’t put two and two together, but I see it now. Mom was working to help pay off this piece of heaven we all loved so much.
Thanks mom.