Tuesday, August 18, 2009

So. The cottage.

My father-in-law is not a talkative man. He is content to sit quietly at his computer or on the couch, or make his way alone as the rest of the group walks ahead. But every time we get together there is a moment when he clears his throat, takes a sip of his coffee or tea and announces, "So."

We have determined that one of several things may follow. A story about his childhood in India (So. We forgot to tie up the ox in front of the school, and he just found his own way home.) A discussion about politics or religion. Comments on the current state of the extended family. Some information about a new scientific or technological discovery (So. What is so special about this i-phone?)

Now it's my turn.

So. The cottage.

Looking at these pictures a few days after being home - our wonderful home with its hot shower, comfortable beds, fresh smelling furniture and bug-free ceilings and walls - I can almost remember the whole experience washed in the idyllic light of the sunset.

But dear god, it had its moments.

Forget about the mosquitoes and the spiders (which had mostly been killed by the time we arrived, or I wouldn't have slept even the little I managed) or the smell of the couch, which literally made me gag when I moved to be closer to the light. Forget the tension between my sisters-in-law, one of whom loves to cottage and cannot under any circumstances stop talking, and the other who arranged for a return to civilization a day early but could not go out for ice cream without scrutinizing the nutrition chart with her oldest daughter. (Newsflash: there is nothing low in calories or fat at the DQ. If you are looking for the item with the lowest caloric content, however, my mother-in-law found - and ate it: a pineapple sundae.)

The lowest point was when I had to carry a literally kicking and screaming Will from the beach to the car and then in to the house. That was made a thousand times worse by the sister-in-law who stared into the car at the screaming child and then refused to just go when I gestured to her, and the grandmother who kept asking Will if it was she who was crying, as I carried the snuffling child up the stairs, or the children who kept coming into the room to ask why she was crying, why?

That happened on the second day, and we learned. It's good to prepare a 2-year-old for your departure from the scene before you even get out of the car, in case you were wondering. And things got better.

Will had an amazing time "with all the cousins!" They ran and played, and I was comfortable - sometimes - with her even out of my sight. She loved being surrounded by her grandparents and aunts and uncles. She adored going to the beach. She was generally pleasant and friendly even with delayed naps and bedtimes, and it was so much fun hearing her talk to other people.

So. It turns out I'm not much of a cottage person. I'd like to come back from the beach to a room with a freshly made bed and clean towels.

But. I'm still very happy that we had this chance to be together.

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