Wednesday, June 11, 2008

The Art Of Cottaging

Summer. A bower of flowers, off a dirt road, Magnetawan. Wannabee cottagers hope for a backyard like this and a lake out front. They're not disappointed if the money works out. They'll overlook a lot of other things too when the weather's good. Like filling up their cruisers at the local marina at $170.00 a pop. Country life isn't exactly cheap, not if you want the glossy magazine version. With boats though, you should be able to get a good deal, used. Always more for sale, and you don't wait months for delivery. For the first big splurge, do your research and you could be grinning on a budget. Careful, the used ones have their secret histories like cars. Cottagers are forever trading up, or trading down when the wife files for divorce. Be brave and remember winching in and out of boat launches, the trailer usually parked outside your garage, boat tarped over in case of rain or mice, might qualify as that thing outside we never use from the soon to be ex-wife and why don't you rent a berth? The $20,000 adventure could be Boat For Sale, by fall, especially when the kids go to college. Cottages too, crest the same waves, but the glamor and high prices don't fade. It might be a sweet deal if you're part of a big city clan rolling in for the weekends. Otherwise you might be surprised at what a big and expensive deal it is to run your dream hideaway. But new cottagers show up all the time to take up the slack. With a little cottage fever and visions of barbecues and beer by the dock, the boating and swimming, the easy life of a Muskoka summer, they keep on retreading the cottage experience at least for their kids. It gets out of hand when the cottage turns into a long distance suburban chalet sprawl out of a cookie-cutter kit catalog like your neighbor's giant A frame over the living room, with the big triangle windows that look way better from the inside. Some days it's all worth it. Great weekends eventually do happen when everything's just right. Before the flies in spring while you're still hassling with the overwintering dust and must or maybe late summer when the bugs have been burned out by the hot sun, and everybody's favorite people do show up together, and no one forgets to smile or shrug.