Why don’t we move to the cottage?

How, exactly, does one avoid a midlife crisis? This was typical of the questions that popped up as my wife, Linda, and I pondered our future. In our early 50s and relative newlyweds-we married in 1995-life spread out before us like an untouched canvas.

Ah, the choices! Not least of them, where to live?

Ontario’s Lake of the Woods region had become our very special place, first at what had been a family cottage on Clearwater Bay, and later, at our very own lakeside spot east of Kenora.

In the summers of 1998 and 1999, Linda and I enjoyed blissful times tickling the keys of her laptop as we polished off her novel. But the need to ‘feed the monster’, as I described my task as a morning radio host in Winnipeg, meant my time at the cottage was always limited.

More relaxed
At the lake I was always able to disengage and look at life in a more relaxed manner. Little wonder that early in our married life we began talking about how wonderful it would be to have a year-round home at the lake. But it seemed like one of those dreams destined to remain unfulfilled.

Then early one March the wheels started to turn. A cottage better suited r year-round habitation -and only a few hundred metres down the shoreline-came on the market.  And after a particularly trying week in the radio wars, when no one who mattered seemed to value my efforts, I was more ready than ever to sit down with my beloved to plan turning our cottage retirement dream into reality.

The first hurdle: how to afford the move from an inexpensive two-bedroom apartment in the city to a year-round home at the lake-and give up one of the best paying jobs in Canadian broadcasting.

Sure, I had built up a decent pension, but at 52 it wasn’t nearly enough to live on. So I wrote to the manager of Kenora’s local radio station, offering to do just about anything. Within three weeks, we were sitting down to work out the details of my new part-time position, a job that would nicely cover most of our basic living costs.

Goodbye stress
So long stress! I now start work shortly before 6 a.m., deliver the morning news and other tidbits, then head out the door four hours later without a worry in the world. At home, I check my e-mail and perhaps work on a freelance project. But if there’s nothing on my desk screaming for attention, we might just take a leisurely boat ride, then skinny-dip in a secluded bay somewhere.

And the whole transition-leaving the old job, moving from Winnipeg to Kenora and
securing new employment-took less than three months.

Some challenges
Sure, our first summer wasn’t without its challenges. There was the invasion of the tent caterpillars to contend with, the rains that never seemed to end, not to mention the contractors who were always too busy to finish the renovations our dream home so badly needed.

But there’s always that special magic about living at the lake. Things like watching the families of young ducks waddling across our lawn each summer evening, or feeding the whiskey-jacks and other winter birds that move in when their less hardy feathered friends fly south.

And, especially, it’s hearing the call of the loon at sunset.

Nature, Internet
It’s no overstatement when I say it reminds me of my favourite quote from Shakespeare.  At the beginning of Act II of As You Like It, the exiled duke cheers his colleagues forced to live in the forest by extolling the positives:

And this our life exempt from the public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in everything.
I would not change it. 

I might amend that to read:

And this our life, away from the hurly-burly
finds nature and the Internet
living in harmony, sermons in septic fields, TV shows off the dish
And hydro to power it all
I love it this way.
Roger Currie hosted Winnipeg’s CJOB Morning show for nine years before moving to his retirement dream home in Lake of the Woods, east of Kenora, Ontario.