January 1 may mark the changing of the calendar year, but every cottager knows the year doesn’t really start until the first weekend up at the cottage. In the spirit of looking ahead and counting down to that glorious day (not far away now), here are 14 mostly-achievable resolutions for you to make.
1. Spend every weekend from Easter to Thanksgiving at the cottage
You know you can do it. So, embrace the cold, and blackflies, and mating moose and just do it. You’ll be thankful you didn’t waste a single Saturday back at home.
2. Beat the traffic by leaving before sunrise
We’re pretty sure this actually works, but so few people manage to do it that we’re still not 100 percent convinced. Cottage traffic seems like something that just always exists, like the sun. Or road construction.
3. Pack your own portable coffee mug for the road
This will reduce a) waste and b) garbage pile-ups in the car. Roll up the Rim only lasts a month or so—the rest of the year, there’s no excuse not to use your own mug. Plus, at most places you’ll get a discount, so you’ll be caffeinated and rich. How can you lose?
4. Cook a meal that satisfies your gluten-free, vegan guest’s dietary requirements (without making a big deal about it)
Yes, guests with strict dietary requirements often bring their own food, but consider making a whole meal that doesn’t make them feel like a burden or the odd person out (even if they are). You might find a new favourite recipe.
5. Build a fire without burning off your eyebrows or destroying your deck
Make sure you’re building in a safe spot (no overhanging branches or flammable material nearby), and build up the fire slowly—no lighter fluid or (yikes) gasoline, please. For step-by-step instructions, check out this post.
6. Don’t get one. Single. Mosquito bite.
This particular goal may be more aspirational than the others, but there are easy things you can do to avoid getting munched on by everyone’s favourite bloodsuckers. Wear pale clothing, insect repellent containing DEET, picaridin, or oil of lemon eucalyptus, make sure window screens are intact, and avoid exercising in mosquito-prone areas.
7. Avoid your seasonal farmer’s tan with judicious application of sunscreen
Sunscreen is always a good idea, but it’s especially nice to know that you’ll avoid those arm stripes with its consistent application. While you’re at it, avoid those sandal tan lines as well.
8. Keep your cool when the outboard motor starts misbehaving in the middle of the lake
Just remember, sound carries more easily over water than over ground. Those adorable moppets who are swimming across the bay will be able to hear your temper tantrum, so try and keep it clean—even if all you want to do is chuck the darn motor in the lake.
9. Experiment with different types of bait
Worms are easy (especially if your local gas station has a bait vending machine), but try minnows, tadpoles, or even leftovers: bread, canned corn, raw bacon, cheese, or hot dogs can all work well as bait. You may just catch something completely unexpected.
10. Learn to play the guitar so you can join in with campfire jam sessions
All you need to do is watch some YouTube videos and learn the most commonly used chords (we’d suggest G, C, D, A, E, F, Am, and Em). We’d also suggest picking up Rise Up Singing for a huge collection of singalong songs.
11. Make sure to invite your cottage-less friend to as many weekends as possible
How else are they going to catch the cottage bug, buy their own, then invite you to their place? (And if you’re visiting a cottage, check out how to be the perfect cottage guest.)
12. Get comfortable with no cell service
Relish it. Look forward to it with giddy anticipation. Come on—you go to the cottage to get a break from everything. Put down the cellphone, pretend email doesn’t exist, and stop Instagramming. Just enjoy being at the cottage—no devices needed.
13. Learn to play Settlers of Catan or some similarly epic game
Is there any better way to while away a rainy day at the cottage than locked in some epic battle for resource supremacy…er, playing a board game? Whether it’s Settlers of Catan, Risk, Monopoly, or simply a never-ending cribbage tournament, learning to play will make those rainy days go by a lot faster.
14. Complete one of those crazy jigsaw puzzles that are all one colour
Or one that has 25,000 pieces (do those even exist?). Or, for a super fun time, complete a 3D jigsaw puzzle.
What are your goals for the upcoming cottage season?