Like most East coast cottages situated near the ocean (lakes are different as they’re usually winterproofed), my cottage is used solely for the warmer months welcoming many, and in turn disables almost all bodies from interacting with it during colder times. Exceptions come in the form of the caretakers of the property (my dad and uncle) who venture down the snow packed dirt road to check on damages incurred from storm surges, which are notorious in our area of the Northumberland Strait. An exception to the exception would be when I want to photograph the destruction on the pervading long grass and beaches. It goes without saying that a space intended for summer use can fully transform during winter, as bodies who once occupied it leave to await for the season to change before returning, just as the cottage itself waits – isolated, dark and lonely. This personification that occurs with many spaces often rests in conjunction with the bodies that populate it. In this case, friends, family, pets and neighbours all compliment and complicate its “personality” by mixing multiple bodies together in this singular space, thereby stirring its metaphorical pot. The space itself remains objective and stagnate (unlike Smart House), but the factors interacting with it, combined with its physicality, produce and contribute to the experience as a whole. As previously stated, the weather is an important element of this space and greatly influences how bodies interact with it. It takes on a duality common in humans which on one hand is welcoming, positive and “warm”, but can shift to become unfavourable, detached and “cold”. The latter leads to an area that has no place for its intended activities; be it a bonfire, deck lounging, bird watching, soccer, fetch or experiencing the novelty of being warm in the Maritimes. Though it’s normal for the properties in the area to be vacant for winter, it can be especially dangerous when a storm surge occurs, then there is virtually no safe area to interact with the space, inside and out – due to flooding (see video).
Upon visiting my cottage in December this past year, it was a very different reality from being there only 4 months earlier. Interacting with the space as it was was difficult to do in my traditional way, the -30 degree weather coupled with rough winds and near-frozen water made something like swimming impossible, an activity usually enjoyable in warm temperatures. I was forced to interact with the space in new ways which were not as fun, physical or generally stimulating as they usually are. Walking around as a rigid, slow entity was close to the opposite way I’d spend a summer day there, and taking my hands out of my mittens only to take a photo was very much unlike my finger being constantly on the shutter if it were warm. By taking photographs, I captured the semi-frozen state of the area as a way of subconsciously memorializing the experience, reminding myself not to take my time spent there during summer for granted.
*Video taken from the cottage deck in late March 2014, as thawing began
*Photos taken in December of 2014 (excuse my slanted horizon line on pic 2)