blue mountain otmpcThe big problem with getaways is baggage. No matter that I’m escaping from big city pressures to a simpler country life. That I don’t have a bigger trunk or a broader back. Or a more muscular wife.

Baggage Follows Me Everywhere…

It weighs on my body and my mind and complicates my life. It has even desecrated my rustic retreat. It began with another mortgage. But so what? I’d be saving these discretionary dollars previously squandered on Caribbean holidays. And now I have country property. Or at least the bank does and lets me use it weekends. We’ll simply have to work harder to make the extra payments. The wife wants to know when I’m going to get a real job. She must have been talking to my parents. Besides who can put a price on heading out each Friday after a long week at work into bumper-to-bumper traffic? So what if they’re moving at 100 km per hour? At any speed we have achieved freedom! The wife says she prefers to gain hers at a more sedate pace. She and Nelson Mandela. Nothing can dampen my weekend euphoria. Not even the humongous pile of stuff crammed into every nook and cranny of the car, blocking all but one restricted forward tunnel of vision, contorting the wife into a human pretzel, and sparking the road where the undercarriage scrapes. By the time the wife has everything unloaded at the cottage, her cramps are usually gone.

More of the Same…

We bought a larger vehicle that gave us more room to carry everything but our debt. By exceeding our credit limit, we have successfully duplicated all our possessions at the cottage, including our loan payments. The theory being that two would mean one in each place. The reality being two in the same place. And always the wrong one at that. Now we have two of everything to forget. But there is still baggage that needs weekly moving. Oodles of dirty laundry. Scads of left overs, reams of returnable empties and tones of videos, cameras, books, assorted beach wear, and all those duplicates being taken to the wrong place. Groceries, hardware supplies and hunks of lumber that the wife has to anchor with her spare arm. Trailers and boast and ATV’s and snowmobiles and bicycles. About 200 miscellaneous pieces of footwear and two dogs who refuse to be twinned.

Mind Baggage…

So much for the physical baggage. But there is another kind and it has changed our paradise. I’m a city boy with big city attitudes. And expectations. My country dream home would only be perfect if it was bigger, newer or more comfortable. Like my place in the city. That meant a washer and dryer. A dishwasher next. Then central air and a spa. Furnace to replace wood stove. Stereo, fax, dish, cordless phones, and burglar and fire alarms to protect it all. Just like my house in the city. My lot needed trees cut for a better view of the lake. And undergrowth cleared from the shoreline. The new lawn needs constant fertilizing. And those annoying snakes and frogs and critters have to go. Floodlights add a nice nighttime ambience. To remind me of the city. All this duplication isn’t cheap. We work overtime to pay for it and often arrive too tired to do anything but sleep. The bank is now my other partner in life. A tidy threesome. Unexpectedly, I’ve had to upgrade the hydro, replace the septic, and add a holding tank too, drill a well, and now some ministry wants me to pay for restoring my shoreline to the way it was before! Before what – Radisson and Grosselliers?

You’d think I didn’t love this land too. Lately, I’ve noticed that the night noises around here remind me of the city. I can’t see the moon and stars for the klieg lights. And despite my three bug zappers, there are more pests than ever. Why only last week, someone said not to wash in the lake anymore! Who’d want to now that there are so many weeds? I want to go back to the way things were. The wife says a strict diet would do the trick. Maybe she’s right. If I hadn’t overindulged, if I’d let nature be, not making the country resemble the city, then maybe I’d still have my natural paradise. Maybe I’d be proud to leave it to the next generation. Maybe I’d be happier with myself. And perhaps I wouldn’t be bringing my briefcase and computer in from the car. They would be back in the city with the rest of my baggage.

This article was originally published as part of the syndicated “Intrepid Cottager” column in many Ontario newspapers. 

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