It’s a long weekend here, in Canada. The first of the summer season. Victoria Day. In honour of Queen Victoria’s birthday. She was born in 1819 and is the great, great grandmother of Britain’s current reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth. A more interesting factoid is, Prince Philip (Queen Elizabeth’s husband) is her great, great grandson.
Which means Prince Philip and Queen Elizabeth are not just husband and wife. They are also third cousins.
Not that the purpose of this post is to give you a history lesson. Or get into the perils of in-breeding.
The truth is, I’m not sure what’s more significant about this, particular, long weekend. The fact we’re celebrating Queen Victoria’s birthday. Or the fact it’s the official start to summer.
Frankly, I think it’s the latter.
This is the weekend when thousands upon thousands upon thousands of Canadians make the trek to cottage country. The pilgrimage. And spend hours upon hours in bumper-to-bumper traffic. Because this is the weekend they ‘open’ their cottages for the summer. And by open, I do not mean they unlock the front door, open the windows, crack open a case of beer and chill. No, no, no.
I mean, they fill every nook and cranny of their cars with mops, brooms, vacuums, sponges, pails, nails, hammers, drills, screwdrivers, screws, rags, soaps, cleaners, varnish, stain, oil, paint, saws, sanders, buffers, pliers, hoes, rakes, spades, towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, bug spray, bandaids, antiseptic lotions, allergy meds, tylenol, peroxide, anti-bacterial creams, antihistamines, dogs, cats, kids, groceries, beer and wine. Whew!!
The reason for all this schlepping is because, for most of these folks, they only use their cottages in the summer months. From the May long weekend (now) until Labour Day (September). For the other eight months, they are closed. Shut tight. Uninhabited. Because they are not ‘winterized’. They can’t be used when it’s cold and snowy.
Why anyone would have a summer-only cottage in a country where it snows most of the time is beyond me.
But hey, judging by the congestion on the highways all summer long, I’m the only person who seems to find fault with the logic behind it. So what do I know??
Enough trivia, Fransi. Back to the task at hand. The Great Canadian Clean-Up.
Yes, indeed, folks. For the next three days, all these cottagers will be dusting, washing, scrubbing, scraping, cleaning, sowing, planting, tilling, repairing, rebuilding, painting and God knows what else. We had a tough winter. Who knows what awaits them. Just know, they will not be relaxing and enjoying the three-day weekend, like I plan to. They’ll be up every morning at the crack of dawn; and they’ll be hard at it all day, at least until the sun starts to set. At which point they’ll be too zonked to do anything other than have a quick supper and fall into bed.
Only to do it again for the next two days.
And then they’ll load their cars up with all that crap again, sit in bumper-to-bumper traffic yet again and finally get back home later than they’d planned, tired, hungry and probably cranky. Definitely sore as hell. Covered in cuts, bruises and smelling of liniment. And Lysol.
Does this sound like fun to you? It sounds like my worst nightmare to me.
But it gets worse. Because they do this every weekend, all summer long. Except most of the time we’re talking about two-day weekends, not three. Imagine. Working all week. Rushing around doing all the shopping and packing and loading up of the car on Friday. Spending hours and hours crawling along a highway. Or worse, just stopped dead. Not even creeping along. They finally arrive and it’s too late to do anything. They unpack the cars and essentially go to bed.
They’ve got Saturday to frolic. And then on Sunday they’ve got to start the whole routine all over again. The cleaning up of the cottage, packing up all the leftovers, the long drive home, unpacking and putting everything away. And then they have to do all the laundry from the cottage. On top of all their regular laundry.
Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard it all before. “The air is clear. There’s no pollution. It’s so quiet and peaceful. We can see the stars in the sky. We hear the birds chirping in the morning. We’ve got the lake right there. We swim. We go boating. We water ski. We live in shorts and t-shirts. We’re barefoot all the time. We make s’mores. We tell ghost stories around the campfire. We play monopoly. The kids love it. The dogs love it.” Blah, blah, blah.
Sorry, I’m just not buying it. It’s work. A lot of work. And a lot of schlepping. Back and forth. To and fro. It’s also a lot of black fly bites. And mosquito bites. Sunburns. Blisters. Calluses. Splinters. And poison ivy.
Who needs it?
Give me a Grande iced latte on a terrace cafe, any time. Or a nice pitcher of sangria on a patio. And much, much less traffic in the city because all the cottagers are gone. They’re clogging up the highways instead of the streets.
Long live summer!