August. Hot, hazy, nearing-the-end-of-summer August.

Why is it that this month in particular pulls on the heartstrings with so many memories of past summer days in Western New York? Think of the sound of cicadas, warm summer rains and noisy thunderstorm nights, fireflies twinkling in the grass, corn on the cob with your grilled hot dog (Sahlen's in our household!).

Fairs, fetes, festivals, and fairways, just some of the ways we celebrate summer in WNY.

My particular memories are of the standout times our family rented a cottage in Long Beach near Port Colborne.  We only vacationed there twice, but somehow the weeks spent there have come to represent an idyllic perfect place in my childhood.

Cottages on sandy beach

These were not fancy, all-year-round cottages, no, rather they were the original plain summertime buildings with unplastered walls that didn’t go quite all the way up to the ceiling. No heat, no wall board, only painted wood battens and ceiling beams. Makeshift kitchen with a sticky floor, ancient fridge, and even older stove. It couldn’t have been much of a vacation for my mother who still had to cook, clean, and care for her family, but for us kids it was a haven of exploration.

If it was possible to spend an entire afternoon, barefoot, my brother, sisters, and I would, exploring the beaches, some of which were just rocky shore. And bring back with us special treasures picked up along the way: opaque pieces of beach glass round and smooth from Lake Erie’s waves, rocks we were convinced contained important fossils just waiting to be discovered, wild flowers we arranged in drinking glasses on the cottage's window ledges, pretty much anything which caught our eyes that seemed mysterious or charming or precious.

We even made friends with the neighbor’s pet skunk – he’d been “de-skunked" so to speak – who wandered between the cottages as the shadows lengthened and fellow cottagers lit campfires and we kids played with sparklers.

Inevitably, sadly, unfortunately, we’d have to leave our summer idyll, searching for the missing shoe or misplaced towel, packing into the station wagon all our treasures and somehow expanded belongings before driving down gravel side roads that led to pavement onto highways, bridges, and finally home.

Sometimes when I close my eyes now in our warm evenings of August, I glimpse those magical halcyon days when time had no meaning and the biggest worry was how many priceless pieces of beach glass would fit in each pocket.

 





Images:
Cottages on beach: cottage-rentals-ontario-kijiji/

Cottage interior: https://www.cottages-https://www.kijiji.ca/k-set-location.html.ca/cottage-rental/9680

Beach: https: //www.pinerest.com/pin/313281717799879514

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