When we were at the cottage in the summer, I fell in love with the secluded, wooded retreat and had mentioned to Dave and Jackie that they should find out if the owners of the cottage ever rented the place out for the Thanksgiving weekend. I was enthusiastic as I described how great it would be to be there during the fall, with the leaves changing color, the stillness of the lake, the crackle of the woodstove. I described the fresh turkey we would purchase, the cranberry sauce made from the berries we would buy locally, the fresh pies and butter tarts and dinner rolls and bread we would buy at the Bala bakery.
A few weeks ago, we found out the cottage was available if we wanted it, and on Saturday morning, after picking up the turkey and some other items at the local butcher shop, we made the two hour drive to the Muskokas for our Thanksgiving weekend.
If I didn’t have an all day training today, I probably would still be there.
It was much too cold too swim so there are no swimsuits draped over the railing like there were over the summer but it wasn’t cold enough to keep me from kayaking both days, even if it meant putting my feet in the icy cold water. My life jacket is draped over the railing of the porch and there’s probably a towel there somewhere.
The cottage itself is pretty remote, nestled back in the trees but if you walk to the end of the long, grassy lane that is the driveway, this is the view across the street. This picture doesn’t do the autumn colors much justice; the drive up was absolutely breathtaking, as though the trees were on fire.
We got a new camera just before the trip North and Tay spent the majority of the weekend snapping photos – including the one above which makes me think of sitting on the porch, layered in sweaters and multiple pairs of socks, nestled under a duvet and watching the leaves as the fell, one by one.
I would normally have been out with the camera but this weekend I had a Thanksgiving dinner to prepare – when we arrived at the butcher to pick up our Mennonite turkey I asked for 10oz of ground pork and when Dave raised an eyebrow, I patiently explained that it was for stuffing the turkey. The stuffing – made with sage, apricots and pork – was just the beginning; the thighs of the turkey were also stuffed with these succulent little rolls of rosemary and garlic, wrapped in bacon.
As much as I love cooking, it’s very hard work – especially a Thanksgiving mean (and a fire in the oven doesn’t help matters much). We sat down to eat around 6:30 and by 8:30, while everyone else rallied together to clean the kitchen, I crawled onto the couch with my book and a blanket, next to the woodburning stove which you can’t see but what you CAN see is the pitbull that decided that he wanted a nap and I was apparently the coziest place to be.
Flex is normally not allowed on the furniture, and I started to protest when he climbed up on the couch but I was too exhausted to fight with him so I let him be. We are both struggling to keep our eyes open in this picture and it’s where we both stayed, until it was time to eventually go to bed.
And yes, I’m aware of how filthy my feet are mostly because they were pointed out to me on numerous occasions but that’s from the kayaking and mucking through the lakefront as I dragged the kayak in and out of the lake. Sheesh – it’s cottage living! Dirty feet are the NORM. And so are sweats and yoga pants all WEEKEND LONG and uncombed hair, and cooking with sunglasses on your head because you’re back and forth between the kitchen and the porch with a Strongbow in hand.
It was cottage living, and a cottage Thanksgiving and it was every thing that I had hoped it to be. From waking to the sounds of the boys cutting wood in the morning, to the dip of my paddle in the flat lake as I kayaked, to the smell of the woodstove and the turkey roasting. It was the butter tarts and the chocolate chip cookies from the bakery, and the soft, warm bread and the tartness of the local cranberries in the sauce. It was laughing with my close friends around the dinner table, and the weight of a pitbull as he slept on top of me by the fire, and of course, the leaves, as they fell, one by one.