Going starkers

By Penny Caldwell »Penny Caldwell

February 26th, 2007

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Who knew cottagelife.com could be so racy?

It’s not like we’re, well, a bunch of ribald sailors, for example. But read the posts on cottagelife.com’s forums, our online “community” where cottagers can meet and share stories and tips, and you’ll find sailors have nothing on cottagers. We drink beer, we’ve been known to organize regattas and, if we don’t exactly navigate by the stars, we spend hours gazing up at them. But when was the last time you saw a sailor parading naked in front of his portholes? Thought so.

“Panache” started it. Topic: 10 things a cottage owner is thankful for…

7. I love that I don’t have or don’t need curtains on any of my windows.
8. I love that I can walk around naked if I want to.

Three cheers for Panache, who also loves 3. that I never have to do laundry at camp; 5. that I don’t have to wear makeup; and 10. that I can wear the same outfit five days in a row. (See 3.)

Clearly not one to miss an opportunity, “Fabien” followed up:

I don’t know about my top 10, but I sure know your neighbour’s top 10… 1 through 10: I love that the next door lady walks around naked with no curtains.

Panache pointed out that the Finnish neighbours across the channel swim and sauna naked all the time. She wasn’t sure how good their eyesight is.

“Kegfridge Commander” nearly got the conversation back on topic:

2. Thankful for: Canada geese, osprey, blue heron, kingfishers, many ducks and, this year, swans off the end of my dock for my viewing pleasure while having a cold beer at the bar. (We’ll be right over…)

3. Thankful for: the British lady next door who has female friends from Britain that visit every summer that sunbathe nude and love a cold pint of draft beer, and thankful my wife didn’t come that weekend LOL. (On second thought…)

“Dad Fixit” applauded the nudity trend:

Think wife and I have to find a new lake. None of that goin’ on at our place, unless you count our two-year-old.

I credit the weather. We’re sick of winter, even though it came so late to many places. We want to feel the sun hot on our shoulders, dive off the dock and be immersed in the cool green water, fall asleep in the hammock to the buzzing of cicadas. This time of year, we turn to warm memories of the cottage to keep us going. “Mark”: thankful for a wife that just can’t say no. (Okay, not that warm.)

Curiously, almost nobody included winter on their list of things to be thankful for. We know, though, that some hardy souls dive right into the frosty season. Take the cottagers on Lake of the Woods, who make “bathtubs” in the ice and fill them with lake water, then climb in. (I kid you not. I’ve seen photos.) They wear wetsuits, of course; what good is freezing to death if you don’t live to tell the tale?

I’m generally not thankful for winter. And no way am I joining the ice-tub queue, but since we’re stuck with the frozen stuff for months at a time, it seems worth the effort to find something likeable about this most unwelcome of seasons. Have you ever noticed, for example, that our Canadian sky is never so vividly blue as on a brilliant, white winter day? Do you ever savour the delicious feeling of coming inside when your cheeks are cold and you can hardly move your frozen jaw? You feel good, saintly even (though that could be frozen-brain syndrome). And what about skating? Nothing beats sliding around on natural ice, the sound of hockey sticks clashing, or a slapshot hurtling the puck into makeshift boards. I think of skating and it’s almost possible to be thankful for winter.

But it was summer that made most of the top-10 lists. Before we needed to call in the censors, the forum was reined in by “Weathertracker,” who had 1. beautiful sunrises and sunsets; and 4. campfire evenings with no mosquitoes
on his list.

“Sawbill” mentioned 1. the smell of perked coffee in the morning; 5. watching a thunderstorm coming across the lake; and 10. the slam of a screen door. Mark was thankful to wake up without mouse doo-doo in the bed (I’ll second that), and that he can scream like a girl when a bat gets in the cabin because there’s no one to hear.

Only Fabien mentioned the season in between, surely echoing all our thoughts at this time of year. Thankful for: 7. the smell of spring.

Bring it on.

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Penny Caldwell