This is the time of year I usually refer to as “the southbound march of the condiments.” Not this year. I have decided to reconsider my cottage closing tactics. Perhaps forever. Do you know what happens when the bottles and jars that survived the summer arrive in my winter kitchen? Yes, you do. They play a rousing game of whatever that game is that involves figuring out how to jam one more piece into a pile of pieces with no visible gaps. I typically deal with this by doing the condiment consolidation dance, which means getting more of the contents on the counter and floor than into the twin vessel.
This year, I looked critically at the inch of ketchup in the 1.12 litre bottle (I am pretty sure none of you care about the imperial-metric mashup here. Who the heck knows what three centimetres looks like? Not me.) Anyhow, it was a paltry amount and even though ketchup has an alarmingly long half life, I chucked it down the sink.
On to the cupboards. Cans come home, of course, even if some of them have come back and forth for several years. They’re not rusted or bulging, I promise. But that weird tetra pack of roasted red pepper soup that has spend more entire summers at the cottage than I have? Headed for the landfill, where it may or may not decompose by the end of the century.
Normally the dry goods are left to their own winter recognisance, but this year I decided to do a bit of a purge. This was focused mainly on the little bulk store baggies filled with nameless seeds, grains and possibly spices. They are secured by plastic bread-closure-thingies attached to a sliver of cardboard on which a number is written. 306. 244. 179. But I will not throw these out until I go to Bulk Barn to figure out what they are. Best case scenario, I’ve discovered the combination to a safe holding billions in uncut diamonds.
The freezer is perhaps the biggest Pandora’s box and the source of the most cognitive dissonance. It contains leftovers lovingly ziplocked, hoping to become participants in future meals if I could only remember what they were; bread products in suspended animation covered in more permafrost than a woolly mammoth; and bacon. Lots and lots of bacon. Shoehorning this stuff into the freezer at the house is a triage operation to determine what deserves to survive: the existing occupants or their summer cousins. This year the only thing that wins is the bacon, because it currently costs about $100 per pound.
Each cottage year, there are the requisite improvement projects. I am pleased to report that in my domain (the interior parts where people sit, eat, and sleep) quite a bit was achieved. Sort of. There’s a new couch that necessitated moving other furniture around to accommodate it. This led to a domino effect, where the pews in the front entryway got reconfigured, and wicker chairs migrated to and from the bedrooms. But perhaps my biggest triumph was moving the blue Mercury motor (attached to a three-and-a-half-foot tall hand truck) that is considered ‘décor’ by some people (not me), out of the hall into the closet under the stairs. Which, of course, required taking everything out of the closet and putting it back in a more organized manner so there was room for the motor, a project that took about a week.
Somehow the absence of the motor in the front hall went without notice. Not by me, of course. I rejoiced in the lack of dust bunnies swirling around the hand truck and the removal of the obstacle course to navigate when attempting to use the main entrance and egress. But this did not lull me into complacency. The blue motor is a Chuckie doll in disguise. It cannot be contained by a closet.
The closet under the stairs also holds the coolers. Far too many coolers than normal people should need, but that’s the way it is. At least I don’t treat them like décor. Anyhow, a cooler is required for the food that has survived death row and will be coming home, so I opened the closet to get one. The motor was gone.
Who knows where it will turn up next spring? In the middle of the bathroom, blocking access to the shower? In the kitchen, preventing the dishwasher from opening? At the top of the stairs, threatening to fall to its death while wrecking the oak balusters? Whatever happens, I’m sure Chuckie-the-motor will join forces with the other cottage factions that go rogue over the winter to create the spring surprises. But I’ll take it. As long as Chuckie can promise me a spring.