We got our first cottage just a few months ago. Because it’s winter we go there on Saturday and return home Sunday. In the summer we’ll stay for longer periods. For now, though, Grandma wants us at her house for our family’s Friday-night dinner. So we honour that tradition and leave the next day.

Well, not always. Two Fridays last month, we transgressed. We insisted on going to the cottage those fateful Fridays so we could enjoy two long weekends. We wanted to make a real holiday of it for once. Some people go to the Caribbean, and others enjoy time together as a family in freezing cottage country – cozy by the fire. It’s a legitimate holiday, right?

But, alas, two Fridays in a row, we paid for our transgressions. Oh yes.

The first Friday, we arrived in the evening. It was pitch black outside, and we marveled at the beauty of the night’s sky. I’m pretty sure one of us even remarked, “Woah, the stars are actually twinkling out here!” Our hearts were as full as the moon as we trundled into the cottage with our mass of luggage, unlocked the door and took a deep, satisfied breath in — we’re home.

Something was very wrong, though. The inviting glow of our winter cottage was deceiving. Because, we suddenly realized, it was COLD. That’s when we started bickering and the kids started whining and we all wished we were back home at Grandma’s. But we stuck it out, checked the temperature, and, indeed, it was COLD. “What could be the problem?” we wondered. We thought maybe we had to reset the furnace. Nope.

Could it be? No.

The propane? No!

Yes. The propane tank was empty. We’d forgotten to check the levels when we first got the cottage. And, evidently, that was very very bad of us. And, there we were, stuck at the freezing cottage on a Friday night in the dead of winter. And Grandma got to say “I told you so.”

In the end, we all huddled close in one little bed and waited for the “propane guy” who finally came to our rescue in the wee hours of the morning – lucky for us! The cottage was toasty by morning.

The next Friday, we found ourselves driving in a dangerous snow storm. We could hardly see the road in front of us, and just about drove into a fallen tree.

Once again we trundled into the freezing cottage. This time, though, the cottage was not only freezing but also dark. Again, we huddled by the woodstove and cuddled together in our small bed.

No one came to rescue us that night, though. Instead of the propane guy, we were awakened by fire-alarm batteries that were noisily dying – one at 1am and one at 3:30am. And each time it took us forever to find the source of the blaring beeps. When the kids woke us up at 7am, we groggily discovered there was still no power.

“Go home! It’s too cold!” Grandma insisted when we updated her on our freezing status.

And so we left, sadly. But as we drove down the street, we came across some hydro trucks – like a desert oasis! We asked them how much longer the power would be out and they said half an hour. Our long weekend was saved! We went into town for some green tea and soups, and then returned to a glowing, well-lit cottage. Hooray!

So the moral is you take the good with the bad. Because of our freezing Fridays, we appreciated the warmth of the cottage even more, and freshly cooked soup, a hot shower, running water, warm floors, TV, each other…

Let’s just say, our initiation into cottage life is complete.

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