It’s December in Canada, so of course I am dreaming about a vintage summer cottage.
Just to be clear, there are no sisters in these dreams, thank you very much.
When I was growing up, Summer wasn’t Summer unless it included a week at my grandparents’ cottage.
That is to say, my little sister had her week and I had mine. No sharing of the grandparents, no siree. Just full on, 24-7 attention and affection a la Celine Dion and Brigitte Jones:
All. By. Myself.
Needless to say, it was glorious. My Grandma Helen would open the cereal boxes upside down so I could get the prize at the “bottom” right away and we would watch Woody Woodpecker while we drank Freshie and ate “schnibbles” of summer sausage and old cheese and “crinkly” carrots at lunch.
My Grandpa Lou, resplendent in his Coca-Cola hat, would drive down the cottage lane on his lawn tractor, pulling a wagon behind, with me and half the neighbour’s kids piled in. In the mornings, he’d wake early and smoke at the kitchen table with a large, hardcover book in front of him. I remember him using an ashtray that had a metal top and sort of a plaid beanbag pillow for the bottom. I don’t think he ever used these jazzy ashtrays.
They seemed to be for company and Frank Sinatra music.
My Grandpa built a gigantic swing and teeter totter in the yard and I loved to swing, overlooking the lake. My Grandma baked Great Aunt Batche’s coffee cake recipe on special mornings and rice krispie squares with chocolate “ants” (you had to be there). My Grandpa loved to re-design his food and taught me to eat tomato soup with Kraft dinner in it.
Maybe my grandparents did these wonderful, comforting things when my sister was around too.
But, I doubt it.
My grandparents’ cottage was built in the late 60s and when I was spending time there in the late 70s, 80s and 90s, it had a lovely vintage vibe to it. A certain musty, home-y smell and barkcloth curtains in the bedrooms:
There was a room with a double bunk bed (on top AND bottom!) and witty signs dotted around the walls and especially, in the bathroom.
That is, treasures collected by my grandpa and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandma:
There was always candy in Grandma’s candy jar on the hutch and I liked to play with the cast iron Mennonite figurines.
That is, treasures collected by my Grandma and I think, permitted with grace by my Grandpa:
In the evenings, we played games, like Flea, Parcheesi, Sorry, Yatzee, Crazy Eights and later, Upwords. My Grandma Helen was a great adult, because she never let you win. You had to earn it. Sometimes, we bet with pennies or potato chips and while Grandpa was the risk taker, Grandma was often the winner.
Of course, every game needs a snack. Often, it was cheesies. Day-glow orange and crispy, dissolve-in-your-mouth artificiality. So delicious. Especially when served in vintage melamine bowls like these beauties, found at the cottage:
Today would have been my Grandma’s 90th birthday. We remember her each year on her birthday with Chinese food (one of her favourites) and games, of course.
My grandparents have both been gone for a few years and their cottage is now for sale. But, I can still go there any old cold, Canadian December I want because of my memories and the treasures I’ve shared in these pictures.
That is, treasures collected by my aunt for me and I think, permitted with grace by Practical Man.