The first task when opening the cottage is to assess the damage, both physical and financial. This proceeds in a logical order, starting with arriving at the dock at the bottom of the hill. This year, the dock made it through the winter unscathed. If you are unfamiliar with how lake winters work, this might not seem worthy of note. But there is a thing called ice that gets cranky (as one does) when the end-of-winter weather warms briefly then takes a turn for the worse, causing the frozen surface of the lake to heave and move to and fro. If the dock is in the path of any of this, the price tag to fix it is nontrivial. Score: 1.
The next step is to see if the Kawasaki Mule will start. Without the Mule, the schlep up the hill is also nontrivial. But first, someone (me) gets nominated to walk up the hill to see if any fallen trees are blocking the way. This year, there were only a few pine boughs and branches that I could easily repatriate to the forest. Score: 2.
The third task is to find the key to the door. For some reason that clearly has nothing to do with common sense, the key lives at the cottage full time instead of heading south to spend its winter in the cozy comfort of central heating. Instead, it hibernates under the mat. Usually. Sometimes it is somewhere else that someone (not me) thought was a new, more logical place to leave it when the cottage was put to bed in November. I lifted the mat and there was the key. Not even significantly more rusted than last year. Score: 3.
The fourth task is to open the door and scan for interior mishaps. There was no mouse poop nor any evidence of other critter break-ins. Although I have no recollection of leaving it there, I am sure the spray can of furniture polish on the bedroom dresser was indeed my doing as opposed to the relic of a very clean intruder. And unlike last year, when one of the fridges was DOA and the other’s door had closed, causing a prodigious amount of mold, everything looked intact. Score: 4.
I closed the fridge doors and turned on the power. All the breakers remain in the “on” position except for the hot water heater. That one gets turned on when we arrive at the cottage and off when we leave, so Hydro None does not profit from unused hot water. I turned it on.
Then the pump went in the water. The time when the water starts to flow is the time to discover leaks that have magically sprung over winter or valves that were neglected when closing up. The water made its way into the cottage without incident. No flood in the laundry room (like last year), no flood from the dishwasher (like the year before), and no cracked toilet tank (happened more than once). Score: 5.
Time to turn on the hot water heater. Wait. I did that already. Is it a bad thing for the hot water heater to start heating itself without any water in it? Yes, it is. A hot water heater is an insulated tank that holds water and has a heating element. Guess which part is the most expensive bit to fix? Guess how inconvenient it is to have no hot water in April when the ice has barely gone out of the lake so jumping in instead of taking a shower is a non-starter? Score: -1,000,000.
Just another year at the cottage. I Google hot water heater elements that will not take six months to ship from China. I Google new hot water heaters. I Google on-demand hot water heaters. I Google heat pumps. Then I go to the bank to take out a pile of cash and burn it.