Wednesday, June 23, 2010
This 1905 photo evokes for me the ethos of Edwardian Muskoka. Much of cottage life revolved around the expansive veranda where cooling summer breezes, redolent with pine, refreshed you until your next dip in the lake. It was an outdoor room where families gathered to hear grandmother read or to entertain friends. And many of these cottagers spent the entire summer at their lakeside homes.
This photograph by Frank Micklethwaite inspired me to write the following scene in The Summer Before The Storm:
“So this was his family. They lounged with practiced ease on white wicker chairs and rockers and chaise lounges on the broad, pine-boarded veranda that wrapped around the cottage. The youngest children, sitting side by side, swung lazily in the hammock that hung in the bandshell on the southwest corner. A silver tea service and plates of small sandwiches, thick scones, and rich cakes was set before them. To nourish the soul there was the stunning panorama of the lake ― rocky islands adrift along miles of shimmering blue water. A few sailboats and the distant smoke from a steamship wafted across the horizon.”
For some, cottage life hasn’t changed that much since the Age of Elegance, except for the clothes. You can still relax on verandas that embrace shingled cottages, and hear the distinctive creaking and slapping of those old-fashioned screen doors that remind you that it is summer.
Below is a Mickletwaite photo from 1908. Doesn’t it invite you to climb into one of those rattan rockers and savour the moment, perhaps with a good book and a glass of wine?