The goose migration is finished. Although they do, of course, fly, I cannot imagine them being classy enough to leave from an airport on even the most discounted of discount airlines. Geese must leave from a bus station, after they have eaten discarded French fries and pooped on all available surfaces. “Bus departing on platform three, to all points south,” says the scratchy loudspeaker. And so they go. Fred, the bird in the front of the V, asks his fellow migrants where they want to get off the bus. “Shall we vacation at the Toronto Islands? Oshawa lakeshore? Burlington Bay?” The hummingbirds are also gone, although they take the Concorde and are busy drinking sugary cocktails as they wing their way to the Mexican Riviera.
The swim is finished. It is always difficult to know which swim will be the last swim. This time of year, one day it will be “nice once you get in”, and the next it will have become five degrees away from ice cubes. However, I can only determine this by immersing myself in the lake. Back in the spring, we bought a thermometer to attach to the swimming ladder to provide an objective measure of the water temperature. It was the typical kind, with a vertical indicator that crept simultaneously up the Fahrenheit and Celsius scales, and bobbed about beside the ladder.
After about a month, the tannin in the water had successfully obscured the scale, making it unreadable. Luckily, by then it was June, and anyone who is too chicken to swim in June is not the type of person who should be at a cottage. Nevertheless, so as not to waste the money spent on the thermometer, it was soaked in vinegar for 48 hours and did resume some ability to display the water temperature. Then, as June turned into July, and summer weekenders returned in full force, along with their wake boats and speedboats and Sea-Doo donuts and screaming tubers, the wave action dislodged the string holding the thermometer to the ladder and it was gone forever.
Instead of giving up on the ability to have accurate water temperature information, we doubled down. A trip to Canadian Tire produced a heavy-duty pool thermometer for only $35. This one was about the size of a small flashlight, with a large electronic read-out on the top, and a weighted bottom that kept it floating upright. I attached it (firmly!) to the ladder. I had exactly one week of single-glance confirmation of swim-ability before all that was left was the polypropylene tether. I guess next time we will need to buy a wave-pool thermometer. Either that, or just jump in the lake and take whatever consequences present themselves.
The weatherman is finished. The weatherman is an electronic device about the size of a deck of cards that sits on the kitchen counter. The weather man is in charge of keeping track of the temperature inside, the time, and, most importantly the weather. He is also supposed to know the temperature outside, but for some reason he never does. The weatherman tells the weather by showing the direction of the barometer, and whether or not it is going to be sunny, partially sunny, rainy, partially rainy, snowy or partially snowy. He also dresses accordingly: he has a bathing suit, shorts, long sleeves, an umbrella, a coat, a scarf and a hat. He also has a lawn chair and a snowman. This particular weather man has been doing his job for about seven years (with the exception, as noted, of dealing with the outside temperature situation).
Last weekend, the weatherman gradually started to lose his mind. First, the barometer went, then he no longer knew the temperature, then the clock died. At first I gave him the benefit of the doubt. After all, seven years seems like a very respectable time span for one set of batteries. I popped the old ones out and gave him what I thought would be a brand-new lease on life. Not. His reaction to this was to display everything in his arsenal, which boils down to nothing remotely useful. The temperature and time are now a series of “eights.” This is kind of interesting, though, because I never realized that electronic numeric displays are formed by some combination of the lines that form the number eight. So, perhaps the weatherman deserves some credit here. In the centre of the screen, the weatherman is wearing every item of clothing he owns, while clutching his umbrella and looking longingly at the lawn chair that’s perched over his right shoulder. Near his left foot, his snowman is catching a few flakes, even though there is a blazing sun just to the north of his toque. The barometer is going up and down at the same time. The Zombie apocalypse is clearly nigh.
One of the final tasks at close-up is writing the cottage list. These are the things that must be replenished when spring 2022 rolls around. So far, the list has: flour, sugar, toilet paper, vanilla, and dental floss. This list then lives on my urban fridge, as a reminder that there will probably be a spring at some point, Zombies notwithstanding. You will note that neither the water thermometer nor the weatherman is on the list. There will be time over the next six months for them to consider the errors of their ways.