Why is winter cottaging not more popular in Canada?
A winter cottager shares her fun times in snowy Haliburton, Ontario
I'm not sure why more people don't use their cottages in the winter. For me it's the best way to enjoy the winter - and not simply to get through it. I mean, who wants to slush around in the city all winter, when you can enjoy an expansive frozen lake? When you can go outside and actually want to breathe, rather than holding your breath and tensing up in the biting, fast-paced atmosphere of winter in the city.
At the cottage - even if we're going for a day - all that stress and mundanity of the urban winter vanishes. We often arrive late in the evening and gaze in awe at the dome of bright stars surrounding us, the tall snowy trees sparkling in the moonlight, and the glowing, welcoming windows of our cottage. The rest of the extended family is already there. Sitting warm by the woodstove.
It's a gift to get away on our almost weekly cottage vacations. Family time is more intense and cherished because there are no errands to run, no obligations to honour. Just time to ourselves. And going back to work on Monday (though admittedly a little harder to do after a cottage weekend), I feel refreshed and like I had a true holiday.
At the cottage we make the most of the time together and, of course, the snow. Whereas in the city, a snowy day is often greeted with 'ugh, let's take the car to store,' at the cottage it's greeted by 'Yes! Get the snowshoes!'
This year we went all out. We bought skates for the whole family, and the kids are skating for the first time in their lives. We also bought snowshoes. A three-year old in snowshoes is quite the adorable sight!
When we take a break from our activities for some soup or hot chocolate, we watch our neighbour zipping his ATV across the lake - pulling the kids in a sled - or a couple enjoying what looks like a romantic cross-country ski....
We've also been known to build a snowman or two when the snow is that perfect cottage-country consistency. Snowball fights inevitably ensue.... Later, when we go to dinner, we look both ways for snowmobilers enjoying a dusk drive. We usually return to a rented movie by the woodstove. The kids eventually fall asleep after a warm bath, and the exhausted dog curls up next to me - exhilarated by her many runs on the lake.
Winter in Haliburton is, indeed, hopping. We've been surprised to find the inns and restaurants busy, and friendly and inviting as always.
As a whole, winter cottaging is a gift for our young family. The kids look forward to it - counting down the 'sleeps' until cottage time - and I feel like a kid again, enjoying nature, the lake I love, all year round.