Thanks to a long weekend, the first week back to school is a shortened one. Young cractpots and their lonely mothers alike, need only endure four days crammed into the confines of routine before being granted a two day reprieve.
This cractpot family made it through only three before running away into the wildness to pretend like summer never ended for just a little longer.
We ended up north of Bancroft, on the southern edge of the Canadian shield at a charming little cottage called Rockwood. Hidden down a winding road, perched among the trees on the edge of a rocky ledge we focused on putting a pin in our responsibilities in favour of starting a list of “things not to think about” that included distractions like work and school. A wooden staircase led from the wrap around porch, down, deep into the forest and opened onto a still and silent lake. The perfect back drop for one last weekend to impersonate summer vacation.
There were enough rooms to sleep 10 comfortably and we filled it up with family; offering my parents and my brother and sister-in-law a piece of our self imposed exile in exchange for dividing the cost and the work load into three. With each of us organising and contributing 2 meals each (plus snacks), we were able to spend less time in the kitchen and more time making memories filled with some of my favourite ‘F’ words…fun, family and food 😉
The first day was hot and sunny and the water was warm and clear. A rented floating trampoline provided hours of entertainment (and a solid ab work out) and the stand up paddle boards allowed for beautiful views of the private lake ensconced in rock and surrounded by trees. Even a startled water snake, who had made his home by the dock, did little to deter from the day. He was quickly added to the growing list of “things not to think about” for those with a fear of water snakes, and the “cool things at the cottage” list for everyone else. By evening we were entirely waterlogged and more than a little exhausted, especially after tackling the steep climb back to the cabin, so we spread out and watched the sun set on the porch while the lasagna bubbled in the oven. As the darkness descended outside and the cottage lit up from the inside, the sound of children’s chatter and music floated from the open windows that framed my brother and his wife as they danced in the kitchen. A campfire and s’mores were the perfect way to conclude such an idyllic day but scary stories were not necessary as we sat on the edge of the woods and allowed ourselves to be spooked by the sounds of the wild life foraging around us. The kids all climbed into the same bed (despite having enough space to spread out) and we all slept the blissful sleep that only a vacation can provide.
The second day dawned thick with fog and overcast skies and the smell of a strawberry French toast casserole bubbling in the slow cooker. For the first time in ages, the children sped past the television in order to run outside to voluntarily stand perfectly still and quiet. With hands full of seed they tempted little chickadees and chipmunks to add their fear to our list of “things not to think about” and entertain domesticity for a moment, or at least for as long as the food supply lasted. Card games were taught, scrabble was played, words were challenged and vocabulary was expanded. We learned that the official scrabble dictionary defined stank as a body of water, or a small lake or pond. For the rest of the weekend, the little cractpots gleefully shouted they were going swimming in the stank, splashing each other in the face hollering, “May the power of the stank compel you” between fits of giggling.
Gray weather and light rain did little to dampen our desire to make the most of this last opportunity to indulge in our favourite summer sports. Swimming and paddle boarding kept us busy and distracted, so much so that Mr. Cractpot added wearing prescription lenses to our list of “things not to think about” as he dived, face first, off the SUP into the middle of the lake. We can only hope that a near sighted young pickeral is finally able to see the chalkboard in his school clearly for the first time in his life. Still, if anybody happens to catch a bespectacled bass in the future, we’ll know even glasses can’t help a short sighted fish off a lure.
More food, more games and more laughter replenished our evening as the breeze picked up around us and bent the trees in respect. That night it felt like the wind got so strong that it would blow summer away and sure enough, Sunday arrived bright and brisk and flaunting fall so that even the children had to admit it was time to move on and face September and all of her responsibilities.
Thank you to the Olsen’s for introducing us to Rockwood; a little pocket of summer to catch our breath before diving into fall. While you might not be able to avoid your to-do list’s forever, you can modify them to include running away from home once and a while to a little slice of sanctuary to help you remember what’s really important. While I always leave you with a quote to help summarize all that I’m trying to say, I think today the message is important enough to justify one more. Concentrate less on what makes you stressed, and more on what makes you smile.
Have a great week my lovely Cractpots, and I’ll see you in the fall.
One must maintain a little bit of summer, even in the middle of winter. ~ Henry David Thoreau
Summer will end soon enough, and childhood as well~George R.R Martin