Thursday, September 15, 2005

Prize-winning essay

Last Sunday (September 11) was Grandparents' Day. A local senior's residence held a contest to celebrate the occasion. My daughter Naomi, age 12, submitted an essay about my parents' cottage.

the grandparents, at the cottage,
with the whole brood

Naomi won 3rd prize out of 198 entries, which is a fine performance! She read the essay aloud to the seniors on Grandparents' Day, and they presented her with an iPod shuffle as her prize.

Here is the essay in its entirety; I've added some old photos from the cottage.

Fishing in the a.m.

I would always wake, feeling excited. Today was the day. I would dress quickly and would head for the main cottage. I would run to the kitchen to pack my lunch. that day it was only me. No siblings. Just me and my grandparents.

That's the way it was at my cottage. Certain mornings my grandparents would take us kids on early morning fishing trips.

Isaac (who is now ten), clearly pleased with his first fish

I always loved going with them, alone. I'd never keep the fish I caught, because it seemed so cruel. I could see the worriedness in their eyes, as they painfully began to slip into an eternal slumber. No, I would never go for the fish. I would go for something more dear to me than that. I'd go to spend time with the ones I love. My family.

Grandpa at the helm

Early morning fishing trips are by far one of my fondest memories at the cottage. But there are so many more.

We would always have so much fun at the cottage. It was right beside a lake, in which we would swim, and of course, fish in.

Some days, I would get scared that I'd be bitten by the snapping turtle, and refuse to swim. My grandma would find me something to do. She would teach me how to knit and crochet. Together, we would play chinese marbles and cards.

Benjamin with crayfish:  first kiss

Grandpa would usually be in his workshop, where he built furniture and other odds and ends. My favourite thing my grandpa made was the game crochinole. We would play all the time. My siblings and I would have tournaments, and all day long would be amused. The champion would face grandpa.

Grandma, asked for her secret chili ingredient, just smiles

One of my favourite cottage dinners was grandma's chili. It is heavenly. Grandma always puts the perfect amount of ingredients into it, and the result is the perfect chili.

When we would go to the cottage in early July, we would go berry picking. There were blackberries and they always tasted delicious.

Frog catching was another big hit there. All sorts of frogs lived around there. My favourite to catch were bullfrogs. Those bullfrogs were huge! We would wade deep into the swamp to catch them, sometimes completely falling in.

Beth with bullfrog

But good things can't last forever. One day, about three years ago, my grandma's health conditions worsened, and they decided to sell the cottage. On my last visit, we all swam to a small island just out of the bay and back.

When I go to my grandparents', we rarely talk about the cottage because it makes us all teary, so it's almost as if it never existed. But I know, in my heart, there will always be a very special place for my cottage.

Lydia and Isaac:  traditional last-night-at-the-cottage activity

Q in his happy place

award-winning author relaxes, at the cottage, with a good book


At 5:14 AM, September 16, 2005, Blogger 49erDweet said...


At 7:49 AM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Mary P. said...

Very nice, specially illustrated with all those great pictures. Cute kids!

At 9:59 AM, September 16, 2005, Blogger Bill said...

Q tell Naomi I loved it...

It really made me feel what it was like to be at the cottage, great work.

At 8:48 PM, January 20, 2006, Anonymous aunt a said...

Thanks for reminding me of how much fun there was to be had at the cottage. I really miss it, especially the boat tour of the lake where we could watch the loons dive and resurface farther away. I only wish I would have had the courage to jump from the swing off the side of the cliff. I wonder if the albino raccoon is still around. Do you think the frogs still return to the little pond? Does the heron still wait at the end of the dock for someone to toss it a fish? I want to believe that nothing has changed at all.

At 8:28 AM, January 23, 2006, Blogger Stephen (aka Q) said...

Aunt A:
I'm glad you found your way to this post. I enjoyed making a permanent record (with Naomi's help) of how much fun we all had at the cottage.

Lots of shared memories … although I only vaguely remember the albino raccoon. I'm not sure whether I ever saw it, or only heard about it.

I remember the flying squirrels, though. Too bad I don't have any photos of them. I have a good one of a bluejay taking a peanut from the balcony railing. And one of the hummingbird at the feeder.

What a special place!


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