I am at the cottage with all 21 members of my immediate family. It is fun, busy, loud, and crazy. And the place is, quite simply, busting at the seams with love.
One of the realities of this week at the cottage is that the introvert in me gets a little weary from time to time. At the moment, I am sitting on the large screened-in-porch by myself and the place is so quiet I can hear every variety of wildlife as I look out over Georgian Bay.
This kind of quiet only happens when all 12 kids are off the point. And, at the moment, they are all eagerly trailing behind my big brother, Jim.
Jim is one of those awesome adults who has never lost touch with the fun and energy of childhood. And it doesn’t matter what Jim suggests as the latest activity, all the kids are eagerly on board.
The Canadian Shield terrain of this Georgian Bay cottage does not lend itself well to babies and toddlers. There is absolutely no flat ground and nowhere to run because it is entirely rock, tree and water. When Michael and Zachary were little babies, and Simon and I were run ragged just trying to keep up, it was Uncle Jim who took Max under his wing to be a part of all the adventures with his two boys.
They played ping-pong for hours on end, went kayaking, boating, swimming, exploring, rock skipping, and tubing. He would take them to the beach across the channel, and, of course, for the daily trips to the candy store at the closest marina.
And, when Max looks back on his cottage days as a young child, it is Uncle Jim that figures the most prominently.
This morning, Uncle Jim has mounted an expedition to the marina where the boats are stored. All the kids, in various cars, were being driven to the marina to then be boated back.
The weather this morning is slightly overcast so the kids had their rain gear in case of a few showers. Some of them were wearing their life jackets and some were wearing their rain gear as they were standing around waiting to leave. As I came upon the motley crew of excited kids, teenagers and dads, I laughed out load as I saw Jim heading up the throng.
Jim had all the kids gathered just outside the main cabin and looked every inch the weathered boatman. He was in a long yellow raincoat that looks like it has seen better days, a black skullcap and a week’s growth of salt and pepper beard on his face.
And I’m not sure who looked happier, the kids or Uncle Jim.
I am sitting quietly and watching for the two boats to come into view and I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that when I see the kids, that each and every one of them will have smiles on their faces a mile wide.
Because it has just never been any other way with my wonderful big brother! :)