Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Still Here....

If I'm not careful the month of July will go with only one blog post (a first)....which can mean one of two things.  I'm either very busy doing nothing all day or there has been nothing worthy of the blog.  One might assume the sunny skies and long beach days have kept me from the blog.  One would be wrong!  I actually can't remember our last long lazy beach day!  The cloudy days have not exactly kept us inside reading but they have not drawn us out to sit on the beach either.  In true Canadian form, we have just decided to embrace the weather and move on.

This is the weather... trying to decide whether it is going to be sunny, cloudy or rainy.....
 This past weekend was our annual Amherst Shore Games.  Next year we will celebrate the 40th annual Games!  The Games are legendary around Amherst Shore.  People plan their vacations around the Games and have done so for as long as I can remember.  What once started as a softball game, a bridge game and a couple of other activities between two extended families at the shore has turned into a three day marathon of sporting events, board games and card games with over 100 participants.  The weekend is brought to a close with a talent show or with another entertaining and creative exhibition followed by everyone dancing the night away at the Barn Party.  We compete against each other for three days and then we party together...because we really do like each other!

This year our softball team wore highlighter yellow t-shirts that said, "Neon for Don".  We were commemorating our Uncle Don who passed away this year and used to bike and walk in a neon yellow shirt in his latter years.  It was an awesome tribute!
While the Games are fun to watch and participate in, they also can take a toll on vacation time.  "This is not a sprint, it's a marathon!"  It seems that every hour of every day is either spent watching, participating, setting up, tearing down, getting people to participate in the events, trying to find time to eat and finally sleeping.  Sleep usually loses out!  Every year we vow to rest on the Monday after the Games and every year we find ourselves at yet another activity on Monday with bleary eyes, sore muscles, tired feet....drinking a large mug of very strong coffee asking each other whose idea it was to do this!

Dancing the night that's why my feet hurt so much the next day!

One day I keep saying I'll write a long piece about the Games.  I think it will have to be during the off season because there just is not enough time now to do them justice.  And believe, me they are worth it!  For now I will say, you have to see it to understand.

Maybe August will be a more reflective month.  July was just plain busy, much of it was beautiful, and most of it was enjoyable.  Life is good at the shore.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

What Is A Cottage?

This is a cottage!

This cottage doesn't know it but it was the inspiration for this post. I was walking along the lane the other day and was inspired (I've been waiting...).  I have walked past this cottage so many times in my life I can't even count them!  I am always struck by it's beauty, it is still on the shore side of the lane and with it's weathered shingles and window boxes filled with red geraniums it strikes a lovely profile against the beach.  It was built in 1906 and has survived the test of time.

Absolutely perfect!

There are many cottages along our lanes that have a rich history.  If those walls could talk....they would tell stories of friends and families through generations.  Like this cottage.....

The cottage of my childhood...and my father's childhood!

This cottage belonged to my grandparents and remains in our family.  This is where my Dad and his siblings spent their summers and later the place they stayed with their children (all 19 of us...but only once!).  There have been 5 generations to sit on that deck!  My grandparents, their children (my Dad and his siblings),  the 19 Dixon cousins and many of our spouses, all of our children and now our grandchildren.  That is a lot of talking about the weather, current events and the neighbors!  I have many fond memories of sleeping in the attic with my cousins and fighting over who got to sleep 3 wide in the "goosh gosh" bed and which of us had to sleep in the middle.  I remember sleeping in an actual bedroom downstairs, a right of passage, with my new husband during his first summer here.  Then there was the summer TJ and I slept in the attic with our two little girls and every time TJ had to get up in the night with the baby he banged his head on the rafters.  That head banging lead to us purchasing our own cottage... it was probably about time anyway!

We bravely purchased this beauty in 1983... sight unseen!

We spent five happy summers in this cute little (500 sq. ft.) cottage until #4 came along and we had to build an addition.  We enjoyed the new square footage as the kids grew up.  We picked the cottage up one year and turned it around to enjoy a better view and better breezes.  Over the last two years we have given the cottage a much needed face lift.  We have owned our little cottage for 30 years and yes, there are many stories to be told about the good times we have had inside those four walls.

She looks pretty good even if her roof sags a bit....we all sag a bit as we get older.

Another interesting cottage along our beach is actually a double cottage.  The story goes...and this is just my version....I'm sure there are at least two other versions....there were two women and they were best friends "way back when" and their husbands wanted them to come out and spend the summer at the shore.  The smart (if you ask me) women said there was one condition...they would only spend the summer at the shore if their best friend spent the summer near them "out there".  The result was this cottage which has gone through 5 or more generations!  Oh the stories those walls could tell....
Those are two front doors in the center.  One cottage, two separate spaces...early duplex?

Some cottages have names.

This cottage kept it's original name through it's recent tear down and rebuild.

The new and improved Pioneer

The view from the deck isn't bad either!  Just one of the cottages with beautiful gardens!

There are a few old outhouses along our lane.  I remember babysitting at one of the cottages for kids whom I now sit and drink wine with on the deck of their cottage....damn...I'm getting old!  Anyway, when I first babysat at their cottage the bathroom was this outhouse.  This outhouse also served as our bathroom during my second summer here with TJ when we stayed in a trailer parked on the property, if my memory serves me correctly.

All I can say is "love is blind" and I loved the shore and my husband... so the outhouse it was....
 I played dress-up in this cottage as a child, babysat in it as a teenager,
 played games and have eaten some delicious dinners in it as an adult.

The oldest cottage in our family has to be this next cottage.  It still stands high on the hill as a beacon to our family.  We look at that red roof with affection every summer.  We can see it from the beach as we sit on the sandbars.  It was built in 1902 and I am sure was magnificent in it's heyday.  When I was young it seemed HUGE!  A lot of things are so much bigger when you are small.  I remember my charming aunt who lived there and having hot tea with milk and sugar in a china teacup in the living room.  Maybe that is why I'm still hooked on tea with milk! The fireplace in the living room has a stone at the top etched with the year 1902.

There are other cottages along our lane that mean just as much to some of my friends.  These are the cottages their grandparents owned and they formed their childhood memories.  Many of us have new cottages that will be the "old" cottages our children and grandchildren formed memories.

Oh Canada!

Beauty in simplicity
The cottages also inspire us to garden.  I think part of what makes some of the cottages around here look so great are their gardens.  Some lovely garden inspirations brought to you from Amherst Shore!

I love the creativity of these gardeners!

There is a lot of history in these cottages.  There is also history being made every day in these cottages.  Families come back every summer and there are strong friendships that are formed and solidified through the years.  Where else can you go and have four generations within a mile of each other?  If these walls could talk there would be laughter, tears, meals cooked and shared, games played, songs sung, dancing, thousands of books read, friendships formed, loves won and lost, hours passed in peace and quiet, sunny days and stormy ones, and a great sense of belonging to something bigger than we realize.  That's what a cottage is!


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