Sunday, October 30, 2011

Closing the Cottage... by Barbara (Ruth)

October is my favourite month of the year in my favourite season of the year. What's not to like? Clear blue skies, leaves on fire with colour, pleasant sunny (even warm) days with cool nights perfect for star-gazing, zero humidity (and therefore excellent hair), crisp apples, neighbourhood camaraderie as everyone grabs every bit of afternoon sunlight and prepares the garden for winter, Thanksgiving (if you live in Canada), football, the World Series, raking leaves, and of course, pumpkin spice lattes at Starbucks.

Ah but there is one thing I don't like doing in October. Closing the cottage for the season just makes me sad. The cottage itself holds so many memories that it's almost like it has its own personality, and I feel like I'm abandoning it! And so, in addition to doing all the cleaning and mouse-proofing, I have a few rituals that I have to do before I leave.

First, I have to check every single thing off my list. This includes washing all linens and beach towels and putting everything in big rubbermaid bins in the basement, emptying and unplugging the fridge and propping it open (I was asked why I do this, and I have no idea. My parents did it, so I do too.), stacking all the Muskoka chairs under the deck, bringing the canoe and paddle boat onshore, emptying the pantry of anything that isn't canned, plugging the laundry vent, and closing all the blinds and curtains.

The things that are on my list are relatively easy, and only take me a couple of hours. I'm lucky enough to have a neighbour who takes care of the three things that I don't have a clue about doing - one is raising the dock ramp using a winch (the dock itself is floating, but the ramp needs to be raised), the second is removing two sections of the deck railing that are otherwise destroyed by snowdrifts each spring, and the final thing is draining the pipes. I also have a general contractor who removes the eaves troughs each year in November, ensuring that the heavy snow doesn't snap them off.

Once the list is done, I go for a walk around the property. October in Muskoka is a feast for all the senses: the sight of the amazing fall colours, the sound of the falling leaves (it actually sounded like rain the day I said my goodbyes this year), the smell of the woodsmoke from neighbouring cottages, the taste of the crunchy apple I usually take on my walk, and the feel of the freezing cold lake as I dip my hand in one last time.

I say goodbye to the trees:

And to the lake:
This is my parents saying goodbye to the lake when we closed the cottage in October 2008.
And even to the "sacred reading corner":

And then I drive up this lane way, and back to the city, leaving the memories safely packed away until next year.

1 comment:

  1. It's so beautiful! No wonder you feel sad every year when you have to close it. Never mind, spring isn't so far away.