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Are You A Real Cottager?

by Stephen Lautens


August 3, 2001

Whether you head to the hills, the lake or just a shack outside the city, Canadians are always trying to get out of the city for some part of the summer. Here are a few ways to tell if you are a true cottager.

There isn't anything you won't try to cook on the barbeque. It's absolutely true - I just saw a recipe for a barbequed salad. I'm still trying to find a way to do pancakes without them running through the grill.

Before putting them in the wash, you have to check your pants pockets thoroughly for peanuts you carry for the chipmunks.

Your dump access card is more precious than your marriage certificate.

You willingly pay the same amount of property taxes as your city house for a shack in the wilderness where you have no water, no sewer, no school, no snow plowing or any other municipal services.

Other people bore you with photos of their kids - you have an album full of pictures of raccoons in your garbage.

You believe that the cottage is a calorie-exempt zone. Even if you are on the strictest diet when in the city, anything you eat at a cottage on a weekend doesn't count towards calories. That way you can have back bacon, doughnuts, pie, and beer for breakfast without fear of consequences.

You fly into an uncontrollable rage at the mere sound of a JetSki, especially at around 7 am. Regardless of your politics, you would never vote for Stockwell Day for the simple reason that he showed the poor judgment of riding one of the supremely annoying things to his first press conference.

You willingly trust your repair work to a one-eyed, one-armed local handyman you only know as "Lucky". He has no phone, no references, and freely admits he's never even attempted to do what you've hired him to do, but you're still grateful that he even showed up.

You can speak with authority about the best way to coax a bat out of a bathroom window.

You ignore any spider smaller than your thumb.

There isn't any medical emergency you can't handle with a pair of tweezers and a bottle of rubbing alcohol.

You're used to only getting three channels on your television - the two clearest of which are always in French. For some reason you can pick up a TV channel in Mississippi as clear as a bell, but not the local station 20 kilometers away.

You rely on the woman behind the counter at the beer store for all your local news.

Your bug bites are starting to get less itchy by Friday, just when it's time to pack up the car and head back into the woods for some new ones.

You may be the height of fashion in the city, but on the weekend you wear clothes that would embarrass a colourblind hobo.

If you got a bug in your salad in the city, you'd throw the whole thing out. In the country you judge how big the bug is before you either flick it off or add a little extra salad dressing and keep eating.

And finally, you know you're a cottager if you family has given up calling you on weekends.

© Stephen Lautens 2001

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