Canada

How I Embraced a Very “Different” Summer

It’s already the end of summer and I can literally feel my heart aching as I write that. Summer is by far my favourite season. Although the colder, crisp air of fall can feel fantastic and refreshing, living in Canada, I know it means one thing. Winter is coming.

This summer was an abnormal one. Usually, around this time of year, I’m recapping all the amazing events, concerts, and trips I found myself on during the summer months. This year, for almost everyone, summer wasn’t at all what they are used to or were hoping for.

No events, no bars, no concerts, no traveling, and for many people, they couldn’t even visit their loved ones. It definitely was not my ideal summer. I’m used to being go-go-go. I’m used to having plans 7 days a week. I jam-pack my summer and make the most of those few good months of sun and warmth we get. But this year we were all forced to adapt, and it actually didn’t turn out as bad as I thought it would.

Although I know I’m not the only one desperately craving an adventure to somewhere other than my own province or city, I tried my best to fill my summer with what I could, and make the most of it. I know it won’t be long until we are all stuck inside all winter long, but this time, with no vacations to look forward to.

So for the sake of embracing this weird summer we all had, I thought I’d recap some of my highlights and fun things I did get up to in my own backyard.

My cottage

One of the benefits of this weird summer is that we all found ourselves with way more flexibility than we usually have since most people (at least in my part of Canada) have been working from home since March. Although working from home sucks (I miss day-to-day interactions with colleagues). The one good thing is that you can do it from anywhere. For me, that included my cottage.

In normal circumstances I really only usually get one long weekend at my cottage since it’s about 7 hours away from Toronto. This year, I got to spend almost two weeks there which was the perfect change of pace from the stuffy city.

Kenogami Festival of Beer

Wait… a festival? Weren’t all of those canceled? Yes, they definitely were, and I think I legit cried when I found out my favourite event of the summer, The Toronto Festival of Beer, had to call off their event.

My sister and I had been attending this event for about 7 years. It seriously is like Christmas to us. We look forward to it so much each summer that we even buy our tickets for 8 months in advance. Since this year the festival had to cancel due to the pandemic, we decided to take it into our own hands. My stepmom loves party planning and planned a (safe) version of the festival at our cottage with under 10 people. Although it definitely didn’t compare, it was a fun way to keep the tradition alive in our own way.

Montreal roadtrip

Quebec has been the COVID hot spot in Canada. So I know the idea of road-tripping there seems a bit wild. However, my boyfriend and I were traveling there to visit his family who live outside of the city. Although in normal times I would’ve been all about doing the touristy things while in Montreal, just being out of town, and getting to stay at someone else’s house for a change felt like an adventure on its own.

We did however make the best use of our time there and ordered take-out from some great local spots. I mean, you can’t visit Montreal without having a smoked meat sandwich, or poutine. We stopped and picked up beer from a local brewery, and we hiked Mont Royal. We also explored Old Montreal one day, wearing masks, and doing our best to socially distance. And it definitely helped that his parents had a pool in their backyard which felt like the perfect mini vacay away from our tiny apartments.

A cottage tradition

Every Labor Day weekend, I’ve been renting the same cottage in Muskoka-area with friends. I book this cottage back in January/February so as the pandemic hit, I really didn’t know if Airbnb’s would be allowed or if this trip would even happen. Thankfully, the ban on Airbnb rentals was lifted in June and I was able to keep one tradition alive this summer.

I did however make this weekend a little different this year by inviting only two other couples. It just didn’t seem responsible to have 8-10 girls from different households like I did last year. We had a great weekend on the lake, around the bonfire, and just enjoying what was left of this very strange summer.

Endless park hangs

Since rules started to get a little more lax around May, one of the only things we were left with to do was hanging out in the park, distantly, with friends. When this finally was allowed it felt like such a weight had been lifted. The weather was getting nicer, and you could finally see people face-to-face (but from 6-feet away)!

Even though by July more rules had been lifted in Toronto, and you could dine on patios, etc. the park hangs still continued on as it was an inexpensive way to hang out and see friends. It was also the perfect way to see friends that still wanted to keep their distance for various reasons. Even though I live in a city, I was very grateful to at least have a couple parks near me that allowed me to get some sunshine and get out of my apartment all summer long.

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I was made for sunny days ☀️

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This summer was definitely weird. It’s hard to believe that last summer I was gallivanting around to concerts, events, and hopping on flights to go wherever I wanted freely. I for sure took those things for granted.

Even though this summer has been great, it has been great in a very different way. I know it’ll be a while until we’re back to “normal” again, but boy, I can’t wait for that day. I’ll never take for granted that feeling of being in a crowded concert again, or being able to freely hangout with all your friends in my tiny studio apartment. Being forced to slow down this summer I think has really given us all a new perspective and taught us to appreciate what we do have, and can do.

For now, farewell summer. I can’t wait until you’re back again!

What did your summer look like this year? How was it different?

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