Ten Things I’ve Learned About Cottage Life

Get lost T-Dot!
Get lost T-Dot!

I’m not gonna lie: I love cottage life. I don’t even own a cottage. But every year I try my best to find some way to a cottage. Calgary has the Rockies and Vancouver has the Ocean. What does Toronto have? It has cottage life, and if you can’t get to a cottage you should at least be trying because nothing in Toronto compares to the crisp and refreshing jump into a Muskoka lake.

This year I was lucky enough to visit a cottage, even getting a chance to spend some quality time with myself for a few days. Here is a list of things I have noticed about cottage life:

1. The Weather Doesn’t Matter:

There is an assumption that rainy and stormy weather is bad. You have to have the capacity to roll with the weather. And just because it’s raining right now doesn’t mean it won’t be sunny a few hours later.

It’s all relative. If it’s sunny then go out and do your waterskiing and canoeing and sunbathing. But if you are supposedly unlucky and it rains then don’t cry. There is a lot you can still do. You can:

a) Cuddle up close to someone indoors and listen to the rain.
b) Listen to music.
c) Read a book.
d) Eat and get drunk,
e) Play cards. Whatever. Just relax, you’re not in a stressful and garbage strewn city.

2. People Drive Their Boats Too Close To Docks:
For some reason all week I have noticed that even though the lake I am on is huge, people are for some reason compelled to paddle or drive their boats very close to the dock I’m staying at. It seems a bit like an invasion of privacy to me. I’m sitting there on the dock trying to get drunk on red wine and read my Carl Jung book and suddenly you and your wife and your canoe are right in front of me. Are they casing the cottages? It’s creepy.

Tonight it happened and I looked up from my book and looked at the couple in the canoe. They just said “Nice night!”
“Beautiful,” I replied. And it was. The view is like an ever-changing water colour painting. Why don’t I want them to point it out? Maybe I’m just a Torontonian and feel uncomfortable talking to strangers.

The ever changing...


3. You Can See the Universe:
The people born in the last half century are really the first to have a real understanding of what is going on up in the sky. The Hubble Telescope has revealed a system of galaxies whose numbers are mind-boggling. In cottage country you can really see how massive our own Milky Way Galaxy is. The amount of stars visible to the naked eye without the lights of the city is overwhelming. And yet even though we finally know what is going on out there we are blinded to it because of the electric lights we live with in the city. Anyway, It is really easy for me to get to sleep thinking about those stars. I wish I could see them every night.

Van Gogh liked starry cottage nights too!

4. There Are Too Many White People:
White people are fine as long as they aren’t the only kind of people in a given place. That is when they become collectively scary and come up with ideas like Moose FM and the supremely overrated Weber’s Burgers . I personally prefer a mixed crowd.  That is one thing I love about Toronto: no race dominates.

I don't mean to generalize, but why is it only white people lining up for these shitty burgers?
I don’t mean to generalize, but why is it only white people lining up for these shitty burgers?

The truth is, cottage country has too many white people. I am white and according to my wife (who is not white) this is why I want to go to the cottage. She believes it is a cultural thing. It is true that I am more into cottage life than her. But I honestly don’t come up here to see people. I come up here to get away from any and all people, except those I invite or who invite me. The solution to this white washed demographic, however, is that hopefully as generations of non-white immigrants continue to settle in Toronto they will eventually find their way up here in larger numbers.

5. Every Year I Convince Myself I Should Live Up Here:
It’s probably never going to happen. But every year I come up here and I try to devise a plan where I can live in cottage country. Maybe part of me really hates the city. Last year I devised a plan where I could become a famous writer living in the woods like Hunter S. Thompson, sending out my writings through the internet. I know it’s unrealistic. For one thing, I have yet to convince anyone to pay me lots of money to be a reclusive author. Secondly, its cold up here for about ten months out of the year, and I romanticize it too much thinking it will somehow look like this all year. It doesn’t. The other obstacle is my wife won’t come with me.

Hunter S Thompson and his ideal cottage life?
Hunter S. Thompson and his ideal cottage life?

6. You Can Lose the Anxiety of the City:
When I’m in the city I worry about stupid things like, hey why wasn’t I asked to do that show? Or, why do people talk to that guy? Can’t they see he’s obviously an asshole? I have to deal with career concerns, phone calls, auditions, e-mails, jealousy and betrayal. It all melts away at a cottage.

The first few days you might be stressed and anxious but this is just a remnant of the city. After a while you realize there is nothing to worry about and you start finding yourself concerned with things like all the different kinds of fungi surrounding you.

Two types of fungi I found.
Two types of fungi I found.


7. You Can Get Drunk All Day and You Can Eat Whatever the Hell You Want:
Look you got nowhere to go, and as long as you aren’t getting into a power-boat or a car there is no reason why you can’t start drinking (or smoking if you’re into it) in the morning. All day I walk around the cottage a little tipsy. In the city I never drink like that. It’s all part of the de-stressing I guess.

People always seem to have the rule that you can eat whatever you want at the cottage, even people who are serious about dieting in the city. The cottage is a free for all. At the cottage you eat as many different kinds of potatoes chips as you like. I’m on Sea Salt and Pepper right now. But I’ve also had cheddar Doritos, Multigrain Tostitos, Miss Vickies Salt and Vinegar and Szechuan chips. I’ve also had chocolate chip cookies, smores and ice-cream. I have also had indigestion three out of four nights so far.

Guess who took this drunken picture?
Guess who took this drunken picture?

8. There Are Too Many Insects:
Look at these beautiful pictures of the cottage. And it IS really beautiful. But what you can’t see are the mosquitoes breeding by the hundreds right at this moment. Tiny little bugs are swirling around like mad in the heat of the setting sun, dock spiders are below the wood, moths are in the cabin sneaking in the door at night to get to the light and mosquitoes buzz around my ear with their high pitched whirrr when I’m trying to sleep. Yeah it’s not perfect. But there are insects in the city too.

Fuck you mosquitos!
Fuck you mosquitoes!

9. Farting

I just noticed this this weekend. If you are at a cottage with lots of people, and many of them are guys, then they will just start farting openly. Even if normally in the city they would never do that. Beware!

10. Be Careful You Can Still Die Here:
At the cottage I have learned I am incredibly clumsy. I dropped my burger and my hot dog onto the ground last night. But the accidents can get much worse. Last year I used one of those electric tennis rackets for killing insects. I tired to kill a massive spider and it didn’t work. The eight-legged monster took a jump at me. I swatted it and killed it with the edge of the racket. I sometimes have anxiety about what would have happened if it had bitten me.

Last year I also stubbornly took a canoe out into an approaching electrical storm and ended up stranded on the adjoining lake. I thought I was done for. This year we drove in to the cottage and we saw a huge black bear. Our guests kept talking about how they thought they could hear the bear when they were trying to sleep.  And now when I walk out to the dock late at night to look at the stars I wonder if he is out there nearby. Just remember, nature looks good but it can also be cruel. Just this week several people died in Muskoka being reckless.

Happy Cottage-ing!

I spent some time with the funny women of Toronto at the cottage.
I spent some time with the funny women of Toronto at the cottage.