We took our son to my family’s cottage for the first time in his life this year. I’d delayed it until this year due to my own anxieties about dangers both real and imagined that could potentially lurk in the relative wilderness (despite my having spent so much time there as a child myself… I didn’t say my anxieties were logical). Turns out that the kid really likes it up there.
My family’s cottage is not glamorous. Definitely not one of those places that could be confused with someone’s actual home. It’s pretty rustic and, in some places, unfinished. Whenever I go, I start making lists of things that I’d like to do… but then I get caught up in the quiet and the general sense of calm, and everything else goes out of my head.
Located in South Algonquin near the east gate of Algonquin Park, our little piece of Ontario offered our son a chance for fresh air, peace and quiet, and seriously unstructured playtime. He basically did exactly as he pleased for a whole week, stopping only for mealtimes and rest. He waded in the water and dug big holes, built wooden towers out of offcuts of wood with his grandfather, put pinecones in his pockets, and ran down the path from the cottage to the shore over and over and over. His mother enjoyed the quiet and stillness that seems to only ever be truly present in this single place.
We took a couple of trips into the surrounding area, including to Barry’s Bay and Maynooth, wherein I bought a dress and a giant inflatable floating peacock, respectively. If you’re up that way, the Ash Grove Inn does pleasant family-style meals just outside of Barry’s Bay, and the Sun Run Café in Maynooth has honestly amazing lemon squares and makes a delicious grilled cheese. Should also mention that Foxfire Gallery, Gifts and Antiques in Maynooth is an excellent place to spend an hour hunting through cool old stuff – I found (and bought) midcentury stainless steel espresso/demitasse cups as I explored.
I think we’ll end up heading back before the year is out… show the boy what autumn looks like in the woods, and enjoy some more silence.
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