May 18, 2001
Having emerged from our Canadian winter, our
thoughts turn to only one thing on Victoria Day weekend - opening
the cottage. At least for the ten percent of us Statistics Canada
says are crazy enough to have one.
That means this is the weekend when we chase
the porcupines out from under the bed and try to get the pump to
pump anything other than black sludge into the sink.
It's hard to explain to a non-cottager the
appeal of going into the woods to be denied all the comforts of home
and being bitten by annoying, blood-sucking creatures (insert your
own lawyer joke here).
It takes a little while to get used to the
joys of cottage life. First of all, you quickly find yourself
spending more time with the owner of the local hardware store than
with your wife. He is your new best friend and source of arcane
knowledge, like how to get wasps out of your chimney or a fridge out
of your septic tank.
You have to be close to the hardware store
guy since he also has all your money. There is a reason why the only
ATM machine in town is right outside his store.
Cottagers quickly get used to relying on
their own handyman skills. Every grocery store and bulletin board in
town is covered with ads for plumbers and builders. The good news is
they're cheap - the bad news is that none of them are really
interested in coming to your cottage to do any work. They have their
own cottages more in need of work than yours.
You also get used to the fact that the local
video store only carries movies you've never heard of. For some
reason they usually star the unknown relatives of semi-famous
actors. According to our local video titles, there must be seventeen
Baldwin brothers. And who knew Emilio Estevez makes a new movie
every two weeks?
At least when you go in to pick a movie with
your wife you're guaranteed not to come out with anything meaningful
or poignant - unless you consider exploding cars or alien mutants to
There are two kinds of cottagers - the kind
that lives in harmony with nature and the kind that wants to pave
it. My neighbour is definitely the kind who spends his entire
weekend trying to bring the city to the country. First of all, he
has a lawn in the middle of the woods. That means he has to weed and
mow it. I figure once you start mowing the Canadian Shield, it's
hard to know where to stop. I guess it's either when you run out of
gas or when you hit the Arctic Circle, whichever comes first.
His wood chipper and chainsaw are going all
weekend, and he spends the rest of his time pulling weeds out of the
lake and looking for his fingers. He won't be happy until his
property looks like a parking lot at a mall and the lake has a
Still, he's better than my other neighbours
who feel cottage life should be a constant beer commercial. For
them, the weekend wouldn't be complete without a soundtrack by BTO
and the roar of a Jetski.
Me? I'm just happy that Queen Victoria
wasn't born in January.