Monday, 14 July 2008
Back to Nature!
Several years ago, the Toronto Maple Leafs imported a veteran winger from the Boston area to man the left side of the fourth line. (In typical Leaf fashion, the winger provided grit if not a great deal of scoring!! We Leaf fans seem to be attracted to grit!) Being from the States, the player stated in the press that he and his wife were very excited to relocate to Canada if for no other reason than to see this "cottage" that everybody always spoke of. You see, up here in the Great White North, the entire population relocates to the cottage during the summer months. Ask anybody!!
"Hey! Where ya off to this weekend?"
"Well, I am taking the family to the cottage!"
The American-born hockey player thought it was extremely funny that all of Canada seemed to go to the one and only cottage in the land!! We all go to the cottage as opposed to our cottage or our friend's or family cottage. Well this past weekend, the husband and I were afforded the glorious opportunity to "go to the cottage". Twin son and his better half graciously invited us to spend a few days of intense rest and relaxation at their cottage in the Kawarthas. Now, anybody who knows me well, knows that while I have no issues with the back to nature sort of lifestyle, I do have my limits and my standards. Call me crazy, but electricity is a modern convenience that I will not do without, and the lack of a hot shower is a deal-breaker!! Toilets must flush and remove waste via a sewage system that I can neither see nor smell! My quirks are definitely not at issue with my dear friends' weekend retreat. Their cottage is a rustic and beautifully quaint establishment on almost nine magnificently wooded acres, and it is nestled languidly beside a small and exquisitely quiet lake. It is the perfect getaway from the noise, pollution and chaos of the city. Whenever the husband and I are fortunate enough to be invited, we try to shift around everything in our schedules to make it work, but, I am always amused by the regular cottage going experience. It is truly a uniquely Canadian business! Allow me to elaborate.
First off, city goers are so pumped about getting the hell out of Dodge on Friday afternoons, that they are willing to spend hours and hours in lung-clogging traffic jams in order to make their idyllic escapes a reality. For a 48 hour piece of heaven, cottage goers spend upward of 4 hours each way trapped in traffic with their fellow nature lovers. With the price of gasoline hovering in the stratosphere, one might think that cottage goers would be dissuaded from their weekend pilgrimages, but you would have a hard time convincing all of those poor schnooks stuck on the 400 series highways late on Erev Shabbos!! We decided that due to work commitments and an inability to shop properly, the four of us would head to the wild country early on Saturday morning. Traffic was still quite busy, but at least we were moving at an acceptable pace. Which leads me to quirk number 2 about cottage life. The shopping and meal preparations.
It isn't as though there is a Loblaws on every corner of cottage country. The weekend cottage visitor has to carefully plan and shop for 2-3 days worth of meals and haul the entire contents of their city refrigerators, condiments cupboards and half of the grocery store produce shelves up to the weekend retreat. It is no wonder that most cottage goers drive vans, SUVs, or motor homes. They need the space to carry the food!! You never know when somebody at the cottage might suddenly get a craving for fajitas, so God forbid you should forget the chili powder!! And, this doesn't even address the liquid nourishment. There is the water, the soft drinks, the juices, the BEER (OMG--THE BEER!!!!) the coolers, the hard liquor, the beer (did I mention the beer?) the milk, the beer, the fixings for the other drinks and most importantly, THE BEER!!!! It seems as though you need a vehicle just for the drinks. Which leads me to quirk number 3 about cottage life, the activities.
Other than the obvious R&R, what does one do to occupy one's time at the cottage? Well, you sleep a bit later. You might want to try your hand at boating or swimming or sitting in the sun and reading a good book. But, mostly our time at the cottage is spent in the pursuit of 2 distinct activities--EATING AND DRINKING!! We don't stop. Somebody is always hungry and the food and drink flows as freely as if we were at a Greek orgy! When we aren't eating or drinking, (which consists of the time it takes to clear the dishes off of the table) we are talking about eating and drinking. I have been home for less than 18 hours and I swear to you, I haven't eaten since I walked through the front door. I am simply too full from the past 2 days. The food is delicious! It must be all that weird fresh air and for some reason, those that imbibe, don't seem to feel the effects of the alcohol. (As a matter of course, the alcoholic drinking ceases many many hours before the drive home, just in case some idiot out there thinks that we are irresponsible!!)
Cottage going is a communal activity. Everybody pitches in with the cooking, cleaning, bug-zapping and mouse patrol!! True to this kibbutznik mentality, the husband and I made ourselves responsible for a deli lunch. Before we left the friendly confines of Thornhill, the husband trekked over to the local deli to purchase all of the fixings. After having an extremely rude encounter with a fellow customer who was convinced that he stole her order, the husband returned home and we packed the food in the cooler. He should have stopped to look at the order, because it wasn't until we unpacked the lunch that we discovered that he had been given salami instead of corned beef. The husband is not a fan of salami and pouted while he made do with turkey! (Note to husband-always pay attention to screeching Jewish women at deli counters!!) As for the bugs and critters that are naturally a part of cottage life, Mickey, Minnie and their offspring stayed blissfully out of the way this weekend, but we knew that they were there because Twin Son's better half (always the braveheart!) cleaned away some of the presents that they left behind! We were also informed by some other residents of the lake, that bears had been spotted in the area and that we should pay special attention to the disposal of our trash as Yogi and Booboo might be looking for a picnic lunch. Ah--the wonders of nature.
It is amazing to me, how involved in the natural beauty that I get. Three loons were constant visitors this weekend and were fishing in earnest just off of the shore. We think that there may be a nesting ground nearby I was a woman possessed and snapped many pictures that I will post later for all to view. The scenery was truly stunning and a real reminder as to why us city-folk love to escape to the cottage. Yes, I am a city girl to the core, but there is something refreshing about this cottage thing. And, while I have yet to don a bathing suit in all of my trips to the cottage, I will return whenever they will have me. I would love for the weather to be hot, sticky and sunny, but there is true beauty and gluttony in all weather types!! It may not be the beaches of Florida, but it is just as magnificent and just as much fun!! Bring on the long weekend!!!