The Summerary: the most perfect swim AND 2018's most perfect docktail

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Every summer I have THE swim, the one I will remember in the heart of February. This year, the lake at the cottage we rent for a week every summer was still as glass after days of wind and whitecaps. The sun was shining and when I was halfway down the lake, I heard a loon call, and there they were, our family of loons (an asylum of loons!), not far from where I was swimming.

Confession: I was a bit terrified. They are such big birds and their beaks are so sharp and they swim so fast, but it also felt pretty magical to be sharing the water with them.

The other banner swim happened on the one night my fella and I managed to get down to the dock after the kids were asleep. We were sitting with docktails (recipe below!) and all of a sudden, a rainbow appeared over the lake, so OF COURSE I had to jump in for a late night dip.

I love the pace of cottaging. I love that time somehow bellies and slows down in a way it never seems to in the city. I managed to read 6 (!) books, between the dock and sitting outside my 3.5-year-old's room waiting for him to stop talking about frogs and GO TO SLEEP ALREADY. I swam every single day and jumped in and jumped in and jumped in again. I really feel like I'm making up for so many years hanging off ladders. The joy of jumping in has not dimmed in the last three summers, not one bit.

We visited my beloved grandparents' dear friend from 50+ years ago and hung out with the loon family (I know I'm anthropomorphizing, but we watch the two baby loons learn to dive that week and I full on cried on the dock, cheering them on. They were so little, but so brave!) and caught frogs with my kiddo (he named his favourite frog "Manny Merman"), and my 16-month-old tried to launch herself off the dock every second of the day. Claire's love of the water truly astounds me – she is the happiest when she's in the water, splashing in the shallows, paddling off the dock. Swimming with her was so wonderful, and even Jack got on board and the highlight of my week was swimming with both of them in the lake at the same time. A family swim – it was actually a dream come true.

When I wasn't swimming, or reading, or frog catching, or trying to keep the baby from launching herself into the water, I was on the water. We went on our first family canoe ride with the four of us. It was great until we ran out of snacks and the baby's foot got tangled in a spider web. And I took a kayak out for a spin and I tried standup paddling boarding again. I tried it last year and didn't get what all the fuss was about, but I tried it again one afternoon when the lake was perfectly still and I needed to escape from the neverending frog catching/minnow hunting. It was so meditative, and I loved being on the surface, without being IN the water. It was like canoeing, but vertical. I loved the perch of it. I paddled all over the lake, along the far shoreline. It was one of my very favourite afternoons.

We lost power on our last day, and woke up to thick fog and still no power. So we packed the car without coffee and ran down to the dock for one final swim. The air was thick and grey and we couldn't even see across the lake, but we swam and arrived back to the city with hair still damp with lake water.

Jack has been talking about "The Summerary". It's unclear what he actually means, but he's described it as: "a swimming pool with a library, kind of like France, and a cottage. There are frogs, but no minnows" And so, this year's docktail is....THE SUMMERARY:

To make two perfect "Summerary" docktails:
2 spears of cucumber
juice from 1 lemon
2 oz Bombay Sapphire gin
1 oz Hendricks gin
mix with ice
top with tonic

Serve on the dock next to a family of loons while the kids nap. Best enjoyed on slightly damp towels, preceded by a leap in the lake.

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