penny in a castle

A digital chapbook.

Cottage Country Truisms

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I have spent many happy moments visiting cottages over the years.  Some were by the grace of family and friends. Others were rented out.  This weekend, I was lucky enough to be spending time at my in-laws cottage. While there basking in the sun and mosquitoes, it struck me that there are some immutable truths about those brief days that we live in the summer country.

– You will always pack twice as much stuff as you need.  And have twice as much stuff again to bring back.  The trunk of the car will never get any larger.

– It is possible to arrive in cottage country at 1 am Saturday morning and leave noon Sunday and still have an awesome weekend.

– A bad day at the cottage is still better than a good day at work.

–  If there is a gaggle of girls visiting and you sit still for more than a minute, your toenails will be painted.  Usually something blue and glittery.  No, it does not matter if you are a 13 year old teen age girl or a 40-something man. If toes weren’t meant to be painted, they would not be standing still.

–  The six year old crawling around on his knees will find the porcupine needle in the grass. Or the rusty nail. Or the wasps nest.  Usually with his knees.

–  If you walk (or run) down a hill, you will have to walk (or run) up it.

–  The time between when a marshmallow being a nice toasty brown and a bursting into a ball of flame – whilst being roasted over a camp fire  – is a exactly nanosecond.  After years of experimenting, I know this can be documented.

–   Where ever you stand, that is where the smoke from the camp fire shall be.  White rabbits not withstanding.

–  Food, wine and beer all taste better near an open camp fire.

–   Hot dogs, s’mores and banana boats are in fact a staple of the cottage life diet.  Look, there are vitamins in…chocolate.

–  Small children will jump and teeter near a fire, causing near heart attack, but shall never fall in.

– Boots left too near the fire however will melt (again, I have documented evidence).

–  If your kid is wearing their last pair of clean pants/shorts/shirt and/or underwear, they will fall into the lake. By “accident.”

–  Deadly nightshade grows beside yummy strawberries and blackberries along the roadside. Leading berry picking to be something like Russian roulette when conducted with a three-year -old.

– On the other hand, while jewel weed can be used to sooth poison ivy, they never grow near each other. Very funny Mother Nature.

–  The craft you brought for a rainy day (or a day that is too cold to go swimming) will require adult supervision (so you can’t finish that trashy novel you found on the shelf…) It will also not have enough material or will be missing some crucial part for finishing the craft.  Tears will ensue.

–  Fresh air will help you and your children sleep 10 hours a night. You will still need a nap. Preferably in a hammock.

–   When going out to catch fish, you need to know that the “fish restaurant” (as per the old wives tales of an auntie) is only open between 6:30 and 8:35 pm. (Seriously, don’t bother before 6:30).

–    One child in any random boat will catch all the fish, while the others will catch nothing. This will require some soothing of bad feelings. And promises of more s’mores.

– The smallest child will always catch the biggest fish. The biggest child will catch the minnow.

–   The rock bass you caught will swallow the hook. Necessitating pulling all its guts out in front of horrified children.  Alternatively you could just cut the line…

– For the frogs’ sake, don’t let a three-year-old “pet” or hold it.  Squishy frogs are unhappy frogs.

–  There will be only one radio station that can be received by the cottage radio. And it shall play Shania Twain, the Tragically Hip, Rush, and Elton John – in no particular order – on constant rotation.  It shall not have updated its catalogue since 1996. And it shall go by a name like “Moose,” “Canoe,” “Wolf” or something else ridiculously inspired by nature.  It will also have advertising about where to buy your water craft and personal injury lawyers…(sometimes both in the same ad…)

–   The air will always be warmer than the water. Until you have to get out of said water.

– The cottage shall be equidistant from a garbage dump and a local general store that sells newspapers and ice cream cones.  This will necessitate a trip to both at least once a week.  Usually with a car load of children on the look out for treats.

– When driving cottage roads, and you drive by someone you must give them a nod and the index finger “wave” of acknowledgement.  It doesn’t matter if they are also driving or simply out for a stroll, or if you know them or not.  It’s basic, common courtesy.

–  Sun screen and bug spray are not intended for the eyes.  But will wind up there eventually.

– A summer weekend requires one of the following competitions – a swim across the lake, a race to the end of the dirt road and back, or the highest jump off the most dangerous rock.  Canoe races are an acceptable substitute.

– Riding an ATV or seadoo is fun while you are doing it, but not while some someone else is doing it. Then it’s a freaking noise nuisance.

– A life jacket will either be so tight it will cut off your circulation. Or so loose it could not possibly save you from drowning.

–  A good, vintage cottage will have the following:

a)   A trashy novel on a random book case. The novel will have the words “Harlequin,” “Agatha Christie,” “Bombeck.” “Dune” or “Heinlein” written somewhere upon its surface.  All comic books shall contain the word “Archie.”

b)  A deck of cards. A really good cottage will have two so you can play canasta.  However, said deck of cards may be spread over up to six boxes.

c)  A game of Scrabble. Or Trivial Pursuit.  A more recently built cottage may contain a German board game (such as Settlers of Catan, Ticket to Ride or Carcassonne) as a substitute to Trivial Pursuit.

d)   A 1000 piece puzzle.  The puzzle shall depict a basket full of kittens.  Or a bucolic scene. Or a Russian Orthodox church.  The puzzle will be missing two pieces, but have three other pieces from some other random puzzle. Go!

e) A wine bottle opener or a can opener.  But usually not both.

f)  A lamp dating from the 1960s.

g) A hole in the screen to let the mosquitoes in.  And a stash of mosquito coil used to poison everyone in the cottage (the bugs will still buzz).

h) Kitschy artworks on the walls. Or an Irish prayer. Or a Group of Seven print. Or all of the above.

i) Random fishing lures and a spare fishing rod.

j) A flashlight with no batteries in it. Only you won’t know there are no batteries until the storm hits and the lights go out for 48 hours.

l) A horse shoe pit or a croquet set.  The children may chase each other with the mallets a la Hunger Games.

–   A weekend will seem to zip by, yet time will slow down and stop as you pick berries, watch a butterfly on a flower, lie like a lazy lizard in the sun, float turning with the waves or watch the first star blink into existence in the sky. Eternity can be found in any of these activities.

–  A good holiday will require band-aids.  A great one will require stitches. And a story to go with the scar that will last for the rest of your life.

–   One random item must always be left behind and forgotten while packing.  This is a sacrifice to the cottage gods.  Otherwise you might not be invited back.

What are your cottage country truisms?

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Written by pennyinacastle

August 8, 2013 at 2:06 am

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