I fit the key in the lock and for a moment struggle with the door trying to remember the sequence of the secret code. The owner’s instructions were really quite simple: turn key while lifting up on knob, while pushing door with left shoulder. At first the door resists, but then I find just the right combination of lift and pressure, and the door swings open. The owners closed the cottage only a few days ago and yet already there is a mildewed mustiness to the dim interior. As I lift the shades, the filtered sunlight reveals a room that has been in the same family for generations. A battered oar is propped against the fireplace with bits of sea glass and shells arranged on the mantle. The room is redolent in memories of long summer days of bare feet drumming across wood floors out through the screen door and racing down the hill to the dock.

From the exterior, Bayside cottages are remarkablely similar in their design, yet their interiors are definitely another tale. Each reveals an intimate story of a family and life in a space that is not their real home, but rather a beloved retreat…a cottage ….a place to be together, to relax and recharge spirits. Traditionally, Bayside cottages were never decorated per se. They were modestly furnished with the cast offs from the real home and being at the cottage always meant getting out the tools one more time to nail the broken bed back together or give an old chair a new coat of paint. The cottage over years of loving use becomes both a resting place for transformed cast offs and a repository of family lore. Every stick of furniture, every piece of sea glass, every memento has a story to tell. To hear those tales, all you need is the secret code to enter the magical world of a Bayside family cottage.

Margot Balboni 2007

Beverly Crofoot
Published 2007