As I turn off Highway 16 onto Lloyd Drive, 40 minutes from our home in Prince George, I can feel the stress and busyness of my challenging professional career, of raising teenagers, of caring for my elderly father-in-law begin to fade away. The car is filled with teenagers, only two of whom are mine, a ton of groceries, and our 80-pound black retriever as we head for our cottage on Cluculz Lake.
The weekend will be filled with great meals, tubing, wake boarding, boat rides to the jungle swing, campfires and quiet canoe rides. I will laugh at the bravado of teenage boys as they goad each other into swinging from the highest platform on the jungle swing, or compete to see who can jump the wake further on the wake board. I will grow nostalgic for my own teenage girlfriends as I listen to my daughter and her friends talk about their upcoming first year of high school and wonder about who will be in their classes, what sports teams they’ll make or where their lockers will be as they contemplate how much bigger their world is becoming.
It is amazing what teenagers will share with you at the dinner table or campfire after a great day in the sunshine, after what feels like a hundred tube rides, after they’ve caught fish and spent the day pushing each other off the diving board and just being kids in the great outdoors. The quiet life of the cottage with its minimal electronic distractions gives them space to talk and me space to listen about their dreams and aspirations, their worries and their wonderfully uncomplicated view of the world.
I think to myself, next summer it all changes. The 16-year-old boys who I drove to the cottage this weekend will be driving themselves here next summer. And I have to trust that given how much fun they have here, they will all keep coming back. But for now, we are all here, we’re all safe and we’re all together.
As the sun goes down on Cluculz Lake, I am reminded about why my husband and I bought this cottage. It wasn’t a real estate investment, although it will have that added perk. It was an investment in us, in our beautiful family, in a quiet place where we can just be together. We could afford to make this investment because we chose to build our careers and raise our family in Prince George both for its opportunities and its affordability. The cottage is only one of the great reasons choosing Prince George was one of the best decision we’ve ever made.