Our daughter’s university graduation has me thinking about spring and summer. I say that as I sit in our living room, bright with the sun streaming in, though pervertedly cruel as I still see snow lingering outside. Even with that brilliant sunshine and cloudless blue sky the temperature hovers just below freezing.
It’s difficult to believe that the temperature actually rose to 17.5 for two days last week before we were blindsided by a hell of a storm that arrived at midnight and overstayed its welcome until the next evening. It made me think of when our children were in grade one and the common theme for March was the ‘in like a lion’ and ‘out like a lamb’ routine. I wondered what it would be for the six-year-olds this year… “in like a lamb, screwed us over for the month and left like a lamb again.” Of course, that’s my take on it, not any six-year-old’s. I have no idea how the teachers will tackle this month’s weather. I’ll have to ask my friend, Pam, who still teaches first grade.
We’re having a new porch built this spring at our cottage ‘up north’ as we Canadians say. Actually, the old enclosed one is being ripped out and the new enclosed one built, lovely French doors opening to the front of the island and the expansive lake beyond. I’ve already decorated it a lá Martha: a clean white, with Cape Cod grey, a nautical theme.
If I had tons of money, which I don’t, I’d redecorate the entire place that way, but then I expect we’d lose the most valuable possessions. Strangely, they aren’t all physical possessions, but a mixture of decades-old memories, the smells of old wood, creaking of wood floors and the beauty of the original logs laid by the Finns back in the ’20s. Would I really, even if Martha spurred me on, change all of it?
As I flip through trendy cottage-y magazines, glossy photos of kitchens filled with the latest gadgets, furniture supplied by the best interior decorators, is this the type of cottage I’d want in exchange for what’s there now? The phrase, “be careful what you wish for” springs to mind. In truth, when we are there from May through October I want for nothing, save for a better heater in the colder months, more powerful fans in the height of summer, and more black fly spray in May.
Our furniture ranges from the 1900s to the 2000s, as does the decor. There were antlers that sat atop one door that were finally removed when we cleared the porch last autumn. God only knows how old they are. There is a 1940s Toronto telephone book that once almost brought a friend to tears when he unexpectedly found his late grandfather’s name and number listed. There is a hole in an old paint-by-numbers picture the exact size of a bullet and my husband to this day says that there was a moose in the (painted) woods in the photo and someone shot it. One has to wonder how many drinks were consumed when that story was concocted sometime in the ’60s.
Last summer one of the legs of an ancient Muskoka chair snapped and my husband had already dragged it off to the side as scrap, arguing it was too old and we needed a new one. I dragged the chair back and insisted he find wood in the tool shed to fix it. I couldn’t bear the thought that the pair of Muskoka chairs that I had painted in summer yellow and blue not that long ago was to be inextricably torn apart. He fixed the leg that afternoon. I found myself happy again and a celebratory cool Mojito in a 1950s highball glass was consumed with extra pleasure. I had saved the day! This year the chairs will both need re-painting, but then that’s what cottaging is all about – it’s not a mega-million dollar monstrosity in the overcrowded, overpopulated, overdone Muskokas.
One of the guest cabins on our island, its refurbishing pretty much complete, will see its own new decor this year. Friends of ours, other Cape Cod enthusiasts, have decorated the interior of their cabin by their backyard pool into a Nantucket Sound-inspired room that would blend perfectly into the Kennedy compound. I have the same aspirations for our guest cabin up north.
If truth be known, I suppose I also enjoy complaining to my husband about the awful mattress on the antiquated T. Eaton Company’s bed-frame on a cold morning. Only a strong coffee perked in a 1979 coffee maker can aid my sore back and I smile to myself as he gets up to let the dog out and flicks the switch to get the java going.
March weather may have screwed us royally this month, but the snow will be gone this week. We’ll be heading into April, only weeks away from our first trek north and the opening of the place we call our second home for almost six months.
Suddenly, it’s all very do-able.