Monday, July 30, 2012 4:12 PM EDT
I’m not a cottage guy.
Growing up, we didn’t have a cottage and only rarely visited one. Summers were spent cruising our bikes around the neighbourhood, at camp or piling into the family car for endless, mind-numbing (but worthwhile!) road trips. People would talk about their ‘cottage friends’ and ‘boats’ and ‘docks’ and whatnot, and I just couldn’t relate.
As I got older, the idea of owning a cottage seemed more and more ridiculous. Another house to own, pay taxes on, maintain? And one that requires spending hours in a car to get to? And one that your friends and family will just assume is theirs to use? No thanks.
Yet people talk in rapturous terms about their cottages. I know an otherwise reasonable couple who were considering moving out of the city to the suburbs so as to be closer to their cottage.
During the (lengthy) drive to her family’s cottage, I asked my wife (a born and bred cottage person) what the appeal was. There are pools in the city if you want to swim, a rooftop deck if you want the sun, with the added benefit of great restaurants, concerts and friends.
She explained the cottage as a place to get away from the stress of daily life, a place free from distractions and the pressure of obligations. I tried to explain that just because she was incapable of relaxing at home, it is no reason to buy a whole other house. The rest of the ride was quiet.
Part of this cottage mania has to be a form of Stockholm Syndrome, where the captive falls in love with their captor: You paid for this place and now you’re going to love it. Oh the cottage? It’s the best! It’s paradise! I just bought a arty, vintagey sign that says ‘Life Begins at the Lake’ to hang up at the cottage! That place that I love!
At least this is how I used to think…
Turns out the weekend spent at my wife’s family cottage was just as she described: relaxing and obligation-free. Two weeks later I found myself winding through the dramatic rocky hills outside of Gatineau, QC, this time on my way to a bachelor party cottage weekend. The weekend was spent drinking, laughing, playing hungover bocce, napping in hammocks and doing some ill-advised rope-swinging. As I was watching the sun slip behind the mountains ringing the placid, mirror-smooth lake, I thought to myself, “You know what? One day, when I have enough money, I’d love to rent a cottage for a week…”
And so I cross over.
Are cottages, cabins and other country retreats worth the headache? Which side are you on?