With March Break approaching I have been thinking a lot about our cottage and cottaging in the winter.  It used to be that cottages were for summertime fun.  There was an annual cycle to “opening the cottage” and “closing the cottage” each year.  Our own family cottage followed this cycle where we officially closed the cottage after the Bala Cranberry Festival.  For the first five years of our owning our own cabin we kept our it open all year.  We dug the water line below the frost line and kept heat on low in the basement and the main living space.  We slept in fleece jackets and toques and used the woodstove non-stop.  We loved our winter cottage experience – it was magical. With the arrival of baby number two, the loss of a reliable snow plow driver and responsibility of aging parents, we decided that we would close the cottage during the winter.  Without the responsibility of a second home, we felt that we gained some winter breathing room.  In the winter months for the past five years, we simply focused on work and family – old and young.  Our kids are older now – both winter babies who ski and skate and love winter.  They are both old enough to help trudge through knee deep snow (or deeper) and help shovel out the front door.  They understand that the cottage may take a bit of time to heat up and that it is different than the city house with all it comforts.  They are absolutely shocked by the amount of snow our cabin gets in the winter.  They are amazed at the brightness of it, the white snow-covered trees and stillness of the days.  Nature seems more pronounced and prominent at the cabin. I work on cottages that are truly second homes but my own cottage is the cabin from another era – situated in the woods by a sandy river.  It is all clapboard siding and wood interior with a barnboard wood truss ceiling.  It was built at a time when no one cottaged in the winter – probably not even the spring or fall for that matter.  However, the magic of winter cottaging is drawing us back.  We have installed new insulation, energy efficient windows, a heated water line and we have moved the water system to the main floor (so as not to have to heat the basement).  I have plans to convert one of our bunkies to an office space so I can work at the cottage and have upgraded our electrical and water systems.  But most importantly we have hired a great snow plow driver . Cottage Life Magazine recently wrote an article on ten reasons by to escape to the cottage this winter.  It was written by Chloe Ristow and is a fun ode to winter cottaging.  Enjoy and I wish you all the best at your magical winter retreat.  

10 reasons to Escape to the Cottage this Holiday Season

By Chloe Ristow, Cottage Life Magazine.

The holiday season is fast approaching, and with it a flood of events, engagements, and responsibilities. Office Christmas parties, family dinners, and jam-packed malls don’t make your winter break very relaxing. So why not get away from it all? Here are 10 reasons why you should escape to the cottage this holiday season.

Wintry gifts can be unwrapped, and unleashed From toques to toboggans, a holiday trip to the cottage lets you put your newly gifted winter gear to the test. Giftees will be warm, and gifters will know they’ve made the right choice. Even those socks that Santa brings every year will be put to good use. The harder the work, the sweeter the reward For many of us, a winter trip to the cottage can be quite an undertaking. Aside from doubling the amount of clothing that we have to pack, some cottagers are faced with the added difficulty of unplowed driveways and laneways. Seasonal properties are often accessed via private laneway, and may be left unplowed by municipalities. This could mean loading up the toboggan for any number of trips to and from the head of the road. For boat access cottagers, this could mean a lengthy trek over ice. (Remember to be sure of ice conditions before you being your trip!) These voyages, while arduous, are so rewarding. There is an added pride and pleasure to loading up all that one needs and hiking off into the snow. That first cottage beer never tasted so good! Keeping it simple The added struggles of access have a secondary benefit. You can be certain that once you have to drag items into the cottage yourself, you’ll bring only what you really need. You can leave behind the clutter and enjoy what truly matters, good food and good company. Unplug and unwind The lack of cell service in many of our cottage communities can be a real blessing this time of year. With work responsibilities generally in a lull due to the holiday season, this is the perfect time to enjoy a guilt-free unplugged holiday. Set that out-of-office reply and enjoy the rural bliss you’ve been missing. No drop-ins Christmas is a social time, and while we all love to visit over the holidays, it can often become overwhelming, especially when that “good company” shows up unannounced. With a busy holiday schedule, moments of solitude can be few and far between. At the cottage in the winter, you can be almost certain that those who show up, are on the guest list. A wintry night sky Ice-cold winter nights bring crystal clear winter skies. For the seasoned astronomer or the curious amateur, winter brings about some the most amazing stargazing opportunities. This is a great time to do a little research and find out which constellations you can only see in winter. A clear sky on a winters night can make you forget all about missing your favourite TV show. All-day campfires For the fire-bug in the family, holiday cottaging has an added benefit; campfires are no longer an evening affair. A winter day spent adventuring outdoors is far more enjoyable with a roaring campfire to toast lunches, cook dinners, and dry out soggy mitts and toques. And not needing to run inside to get warm ensures you make the most of the daylight hours. Booze stays cold in the snowbank ‘Nuff said. Get to know the locals One person’s community is another person’s year-round hometown. The rural natural resource and tourism based hubs that support our cottage communities are some of the most interesting places in all of Canada. General stores that are passed down through generations, eclectic art and craft shops, and hole-in-the-wall diners are a treasure trove of friendly faces and rich history. While things are a little less hectic in town, why not take the time to get to know your seasonal neighbours? The solace of winter Packed shopping malls, jammed schedules, late nights and early mornings. The holiday season can be a stressful one. The cottage may be just the winter escape you need to relax and recover.