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We’re heading to a cottage. rent. Two years into the pandemic, my husband and I are grateful for the four extra walls of our house, but we’re tired of looking at them. Maybe he got tired of looking at each other too. Reading, picnicking, local beer, patio tables. Just a ticket for summer vacation.
Bringing another dog for the first time reduces the storage capacity of the car. To be fair, the car has the same amount of space. just fill up. quickly.
I limit myself to four books. Jenin Cummins American dirt. Kathryn Hayhoe save us. Michel Gods Five little Indians. This confirms a friend’s remark, “You don’t do fluff.” Or the male authors, it seems. Even the Grace Paley Collection, Book Four, is read with intent; To better understand the structure of a good short story. Hoping to write one.
I read during the day about immigration, climate change, and boarding schools; Important and well written books. But in the minutes between brushing my teeth and letting the dogs out one last time, I flip the remaining magazines into a basket on the porch. Greg’s Caves, Flower Island, Cabot Head Lighthouse. then, Hut life, in the hut, hut tips.
There are slight differences in the names of home magazines, but the content is similar: saw ads, articles on foundation repairs, tips for picking up smallmouth bass. None of these provide a campfire that I can dance around until I see a great sable recipe and list of suggestions for the guests. I check the closet for necessary ingredients while doing the math to see how long it’s been since I’ve been to someone’s country house. twenty years.
Certainly, there is an upside to accepting the invitation. Coffee on the sidewalk and kayaking between lily pads. But the downside? I spend all the time trying to learn the rules. Does the day start at 6, 8 or 10 as everyone helps themselves to the granola? Or, do breakfast at 6, 8, or 10 with fresh blueberries folded into pancakes? Who picks the fruit? And wash the spoon? “We all participated.” Yes, this works for those lying in rowboats, Muskoka chairs with fishing rods, and crime novels; It serves people looking for that elusive spot where, if you stand on your left foot and your right arm reaches a sufficient height, the phone connects to a nearby tower. The rest of us stayed to work. and serve.
Shack magazines are aware of this dilemma, although the advice is inconsistent. One article recommends being clear at first. Arrival time, departure time, house rules. Another article that takes an informal approach. Hosts are encouraged to decline offers of groceries and supplies; This prevents piling up excess of everyday items as well as unpopular and unpopular jam packages. But this laissez-faire attitude takes a turn in the last paragraph with the mockery of anyone who appears with homemade wine or fresh flowers; Who didn’t realize that they should buy a generous gas gift card.
High time, chores, gifts. As if that weren’t enough, there are projects: roofs to remodel, floors to stain, and weeds to pop out of the lake. in the hut each host spends part of his vacation “in Tejarat style”; A common family phrase that uses the nickname “mother-in-law” to describe anyone who is fully engaged in household chores. as I did. It is not always clear how much to help and reading the nonverbal clues is stressful; I suspect there is a direct correlation between the repetition of “You’re here to relax!” Help is expected. If I want to achieve more, I have a long list of my own. at home.
But during my last cottage sleep, the bridge was the breaking point. The host was anxious and needed a fourth. I knew how to play crazy eights rummy. How difficult is it? trump card! tender! upload! Very difficult, and despite reassurances to the contrary, the bridge is taken very seriously. Always. It was after two in the morning when the match ended. The youngest of the children woke up four hours later. I stumbled into the kitchen, laying Kellogg’s pleasant packet of cereal on the counter before realizing that the night before’s hot chocolate had exhausted my milk supply. These kids didn’t care. Perhaps, but they were still asleep.
Subsequent invitations to the huts were declined. When I need a vacation, I pack my coffee routine, and I book an Airbnb. People say I’m on my way, as if it was something bad. But everyone has a rhythm. Every cottage owner too. By the time I crack the code, it’s time to leave. Sorry, I’m not sorry.
A close friend does not take any offense; After several chapters of listening while I was stumbling over excuses, she simply said, “Give me a shout out if you change your mind.” She smiles when I reply, “Okay,” because we both know I won’t.
Marge Heidbrecht lives in Dundas, Ont.
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