As we have been settling into our cottage and have had more time to enjoy it (rather than just continuing to complete structural tasks), it's no longer enough that this is our place to get away to. It has become a place in need of an identity.
The lake place has been one of three cottages that I have visited over the past ten days, each one utterly different from the rest. My brother's place, a tiny one-room cottage in the centre of a busy tourist location, has the feel of a rest-stop. A place to spend a few hours away from the bustle of the shops and boardwalk. There's a community bathroom and cook shack and neighbours an arm's length away; you have to like being around lots of people. My sister's place has a real beach feel, with beadboard walls and wicker and a large treed lot in an established beach community. It's a place that lends itself to croquet and paperbacks and sandy flip-flops on deck steps.
And then there is us. Our lot, a former alfalfa field, is treed only in the riparian zone, to which it slopes substantially. There are only three dwellings on our side of the lake and nothing but fields and Manitoba parkland for miles and miles. The lake is a well-known fishing spot, but there is no beach.
Whites and blues and creams do not fit into the decor here, which is just as well, considering we painted with greens and greys. As we move from subsistence living to becoming accustomed to touches of luxury (with a functioning water and septic system awaiting us when we arrived this time, a driveway put down while we were here, and a fridge and stove on their way next time), the real nature of our lake place is starting to make itself known.
Although new, it's rustic, with a sturdy wooden deck and a daunting climb to get there. The wood stove that is at the heart of the big room and the little touches that we are adding each time we come out seem to be nudging the lake place toward a woodsy retreat feel. I think I surprised the Spousal Unit with my resounding yes! at his suggestion that we mount a head or antlers or a skull or something on the living room wall.
I think we have found our lake voice. Now all we need are the trees.