Greeting The Season's Change, a memoir by Robert W Kovacs at

Greeting The Season’s Change

Greeting The Season’s Change

written by: Robert W Kovacs


Greeting The Season's Change, a memoir by Robert W Kovacs at Spilwords.comAs I lay in bed and battle another night of insomnia, my mind is in a blur of nostalgic and cherished memories of my childhood summers at our cottage on the Severn River in Muskoka, Canada. I remember this time of the year being so bittersweet. This was the polar opposite of the excitement my parents and I had waiting for spring to arrive and head up north and to bring the cottage out of its long winter nap and bring in another summer cottage season to be among our friends and neighbors who became our extended family. As a child, I was the lucky one, Mom and I spent my entire summer break up there until I was 12 years-old. Dad would make the over seven hour drive each way from our home outside of Detroit to come up every Friday night and return back for the work week every Sunday night. I remember excitedly trying to stay awake for his post-midnight arrival, however; my first greetings were often waking up to the smells of him making Saturday breakfast.

Summer on the Severn River unofficially ended with Labor Day weekend and it was now time to begin to close up another summer season. Throughout the entire summer, family and friends came by for a couple of days or Dad would surprise me by bringing one of my friends up with him on Friday night. I still wonder how my father was able to cross an international border with a non-related child with just a birth certificate, but I digress, back to my post. This typically, more often than not, was our last weekend and closed up the cottage for the season. Our Canadian neighbors often still went up until Columbus Day (Canadian Thanksgiving Day) or sometimes later and then closed up for the season. We usually managed to squeeze in a visit for the day during my school’s winter break and spring break while celebrating Christmas and Easter holidays with our family in Toronto.

While Dad and our friends prepared to pull the boat out and winterize it, Mom helped take care of the inside preparations for the cottage’s winter hibernation. Together, they turned off and drained the water, brought in the outdoor furniture and BBQ into the basement, returned gardening tools and checked off many last-minute items on their well-rehearsed checklist of to-do’s. In those days, we had to arrange for someone to take us out to the marina by boat where we parked our car. Autumn, brought cooler winds whispering through the pine trees, mist lifting off the warmer river and Mother Nature telling her wildlife to scurry for food and gather material to prepare their home for the long winter ahead.

We must have already said our good-byes to our summer family and neighbors over just one more visit, one more meal together, one more drink, one more boat ride, one more last water ski, one more swim or just one more whatever, as if we weren’t ready to close up for the season. All that mattered was we were together amongst our family and how everything seemed to be simpler and better back then. I, too wouldn’t see my summer siblings again until next summer. The great thing was with spring arriving, cottages began opening up and everyone reunited without skipping a beat, everything just fell back into place and everyone seemed to pick back up exactly where they left off when they said their seasonal farewell’s several months earlier.

With the electricity turned off at the big box in my parents’ bedroom, we took one last look around to make sure we had everything and everything was taken care of including the last bathroom break (this time the outhouse) until we filled up with gas about half way to Detroit. With the winter curtains drawn and the turn of the key in the door, we officially sealed another summer as done. As we got into the car, my parents would say in unison a quick prayer in Hungarian, “Isten segítsen minket” or translated, God help us. In this case, God help us get home once again safely and be able to return yet for another summer. God obliged. He watched over my Dad as did those long drives every Friday and Sunday night for dozen or so years until they moved to south Florida. He protected Mom and I for the weeks we spent up at the cottage alone before the weekends filled up around the river.

Once we finally pulled out of our driveway for the last time this season, we waved until our recognizable family members became simply silhouettes, then vague shadows and eventually no longer seen by the road’s dust we left behind. I remember feeling profoundly sad during the ride home. I vividly remember taking Highway 11 until it blended into Highway 400 and seeing the rural farmlands become an urban skyline with the CN Tower prevailing miles before entering the city limits of Toronto proper. We exited Highway 400 just before it reduced down to became a Toronto thoroughfare by heading west on Highway 401. My sadness usually disappeared the closer we were to home. I recall, waking up as we crossed the Ambassador Bridge and entered the United States. By now, I was filled with excitement to reunite with my school friends and share yet another exciting summer I had at the cottage doing things most children my age would have only dreamt about.

As the years passed, it became increasingly difficult for my aging parents not only to do the long drive, now from South Florida but to maintain the cottage and upkeep the grounds the way they liked it. In fall of 2013, my parents closed the cottage for one last greeting the season’s change, not just for the winter, but for the very last time. As they locked the door the final time and made sure their memorized checklist was complete, they then emotionally passed over the keys to their realtor, whom they will always remember as the little redheaded girl along with her sisters spending countless time at our cottage. For me, living in South Florida, keeping the cottage would not have been practical since I am only able to take one week of vacation at any given time. I could just see spending my week off working and maintaining rather than spending it in relaxation and enjoyment. Despite the sadness of closing this large chapter of our lives, our decision to sell was not an easy one, but it was the right choice at the right time. Our realtor tried comforting my parents by telling them how letting go may not be easy but the new family buying our cottage will open up in the spring and make new friends and family, bring their traditions and celebrations, just as my parents did so many years earlier.

While still not being able to sleep, I got up, reached for my cell phone to get my social media fix and head to my rocking chair in my living room. I begin thumbing through group posts, looking at pictures and reading shared stories of others only to realize how many of our family and friends have left this terrestrial life and how many new one’s are starting their own new chapter. Many of the posts left me filled with nostalgic smiles and no doubt some tears too. Oddly, it also left me a bizarre sense of emptiness while I still am trying to grasp that I am no longer the little boy up at the cottage staring into night’s crisp cloudless sky, hoping to catch a meteor or two; or the one hoping to catch the record walleye; or jumping into the refreshing cool Severn River during an unexpected heat wave but I have become a 50 year old man wondering where all the years vanished to.



I am posting this in honor of my Dad who loved his cottage and the many friends who became our family over the years. Mom and I miss Dad, our remaining friends, those too who have left us and of course our cottage. I am glad to have gotten to know the new owners albeit only via Facebook and see how her and her family are continuing the tradition of building memories of a lifetime on the Severn in Muskoka, Canada.

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