“Remember when the sound of little feet, was the music we danced to week to week.” (Alan Jackson)
What I will call the ‘quiet season’ is upon us, as our kids are back to school. For us, that means we are down to one left at home – the other three are off in different directions. It is just my wife and me at the cottage this weekend. I remember when we looked forward to getting some alone time here. Years ago when we were surviving the hustle and bustle of a particularly wild and chaotic week at our island escape with the whole clan, we would look into the future with envy. “It will be nice when we can have the place just to ourselves,” we would say. “It will be so peaceful.”
Well, those days are here. The kids have grown up – they grew up so fast that we almost missed it. Now, even in the summer, they don’t make it to the cottage as much. They no longer enjoy the uninhibited freedom of youth; the reality of grown-up life is upon them. They have to work through the summer to make enough money for the next school year. Now they are off again to university. So, my wife and I sit with our morning coffee, amongst the peace and quiet of a cottage morning.
“Remember when?” we will say, first one of us and then the other.
“Remember when,” I reminisce, “your oldest daughter, (they were always my wife’s kids when they were misbehaving or careless), fell on that rock when she was running through the water.” She had casually commented that she had cut her leg, when in fact her shin was slashed so badly I almost passed out looking at it. She needed a major stitch job. A beauty mark we call it now.
“Remember when,” responds my spouse, “the girls would spend the whole afternoon snorkelling off the shoal on the point in search of treasure. Oh, the trinkets and fishing lures they used to find.”
Remember when they stumbled over that wasp nest while playing in the forest. It was like a cartoon, the kids came screaming and running towards the cabin with a swarm of angry wasps hot in pursuit. Remember when our son built that raft out of logs and rope. We thought it would never float, but there he was, like Huck Finn, paddling his homemade raft around the bay. Remember when the cousins came for a visit and we would practically never see the kids, except when they were hungry. They would have their own games, and their imaginations ran wild. All we would hear from them was hollering and laughter, and every once in a while we would catch glimpses of them running through the woods like ghosts.
Remember when Grandpa and Grandma would join us. No matter how hard the children tried, Grandma would always trick them and be first into the lake for a swim. Remember when we would sit around the bonfire in the evening and Grandpa would pull out his harmonica. Or we would play a board game, something we only did at the cottage when the family was all together, and everybody, young and old, looked forward to it.
In the boathouse my wife has arranged a collage of old sepia-toned black and white photos set on colourful pallet frames. The photos are all cottage scenes, snaps of the kids having fun, laughing and smiling in the midst of all sorts of cottage activity. Many of the photos were taken years ago, when the children were much younger – well, I guess we all were. I often stop and pause in front of the pictures; they bring a smile to my face.
My wife and I sit here on the dock as another cottage season speeds away, and share the memories. We look at each other, laugh and say, “Remember when?”
“Remember when we said when we turned grey, when the children grow up and move away; We won’t be sad, we’ll be glad, for all the life we’ve had – and we’ll remember when.”