If anyone’s seen the movie, the Great Outdoors, with John Candy and Dan Aykroyd, they’ll know that sometimes things can be quite unexpected…and it is in homage to this, that I name this post.
Vacation is upon me…finally. And this time, we are filling our time off with a short trip to the cottage which I’m spiritually allergic to: I mean, no AC, no cable TV, no WiFi, and essentially, not much of a boundary between Mother Nature and me… I’m allergic to anything in the “great outdoors.” Call me urbanite – the closest I get to the great outdoors is the park around the corner where my kids sometimes play.
For example, take day 3 of our 6 day getaway to the family cottage – I swore I’d never stay at beyond a night (two if absolutely necessary). My legs are swollen and itchy from the bites of creatures or scrapes of plants unknown, my hair is at least 4 inches shorter as it has curled up and bunched up into anti-nature dreadlocks, and my face is covered with ugly brown spots and freckles. Despite all these little discomforts, I sat in awe of the most incredible thunderstorm I’ve witnessed in a long, long time.
The cottage has a very large picture window overlooking the lake, which, just moments ago, was being punctured by millions of the largest, hardest drops of rain while the “north shore” across the way gets ravaged by bolt after bolt of lightning. And I’m watching the steam rise up from between the rows upon rows of trees in response to the cold rain. It’s so ominous…
The storm has passed – I learned once that the longer the time between seeing lightning and hearing thunder, the further the storm had traveled and hence, the closer to ending. I’ve just imparted a little wisdom here and since I’m on vacation, if what I’ve said is fiction, well, I chalk it up to days of totally being out of my element and being completely discombobulated. But do look it up and Google it – let me know if I was wrong! But now, with coffee in hand and a nice piece of toast, I’m literally floored by how majestic things seem up here.
When we first arrived at the cottage, while Mr. Niceguy and the boys were full of anticipation and bubbling with excitement, all I could think of was how I would stop myself from inevitably going absolutely stir crazy? How would I fill the time without cable TV? How would I entertain my highly active kids and keep them from driving each other (and me) crazy? But with the sun’s heat radiating down on me, I began to give in to my surroundings as I began my usual eternal debate between lusting for relaxation and a deep, bronzed tan juxtaposed with premature aging and skin cancer. Secondary to this consideration was which bikini to start this so-called vacation in: sporty (very efficient for all water activities) or sexy (no tan lines but likely to end up around my ankles with every jump).
Truth be told, these are all moot points given that I still have to lose about 5 to 7 pounds for either to really look good…though who am I kidding?
One glance in the mirror will confirm that I am not Jennifer Aniston’s doppelgänger, so once again, a moot point.
I went with a mix: sporty top, sexy bottom…and after about 2 hours of the same cycle: sunning, getting too hot, jumping in the freezing cold lake to my children’s squeals and utter delight, coming back out and starting all over again, I needed something more to do…so I toilet trained the 3 year old. That’s right. Toilet trained. We are just about 100% there. And I have to pause here because it was his 3 year old friend’s mom that actually gave me the idea. Thank you. She made the comment that her son would come over and take all of my extremely selfish, possessive and territorial 3 year old’s underwear (Cars, Curious George, the whole lot) since he wasn’t using them… I exploited this…and it worked!
I’ve always known my kids were lovers of the great outdoors, and this potty training unleashed one more aspect that can only be described as “pure boy”: not only does my little guy use his simple potty seat, but along with his brother, he likes to go in the lake, on the rocks, along the path and pretty much anywhere can mark his territory. Well I say, well done! This achievement is HUGE for both of us! Thank you possessive human nature and thank you great outdoors!
OK…so what next? How else to pass the time? By day 4, we started on fake accents. Having grown up in Saudi Arabia, to parents who speak at least 5 different languages, my ears have forever been full of so many different sounds. In fact, my sister and I learned to speak English while watching Sesame Street and Electric Company (American accent) and at a British private school combined with our Armenian mother tongue and our exposure to Arabic. So for as long as I can remember, I can turn on most accents in a flash, particularly a London accent, but to pass the time, I’ve decided to work on all of the UK: Scottish, southern England, Sheffield, Manchester, and so on. And after a couple of beers, and the kids installed nicely in front of a movie, Mr. Niceguy and I have gone from the Beatles, to Trainspotting, to Snatch and Mr. Bean. “I say, me finks we’re ‘avin a jolly good time! Rather!” How droll.
There’s been some real excitement at the cottage too…for instance, we went canoeing, something I hadn’t done in years…decades, really! And I actually skipped rocks! And following the 7 year old’s lead, I spent a great deal of my time swimming. The 3 year old swam too, that is, until the incident with Jenny, a 3 year old, chocolate lab (I don’t know my dogs very well so this is an assumption). In any case, Jenny was very excited to see us one afternoon. So much so that without any warning, she jumped in the water and started to try and climb up on top of the 3 year old and his swim ring. The only thing between this enormous dog and my 3 year old was my arm which got quite bruised in the process of trying to keep myself and the 3 year old from drowning under the weight of this dog! But Mr. Niceguy (all toned up from his training) dove in and saved the day…my hero!
But adventures aside, the great outdoors has been good to us…and ok, I admit it, unexpectedly good to me. Letting go of the urban noises and stresses was a very welcome change – as was all the time spent lounging, swimming and staring up at the sky. If my inlaws will allow it, I daresay, I’d be up for a repeat same time next year…but only once…and only next year! Oh, and now I hear the sweet call of the city…my phone is beeping and I have to go!
4 thoughts on “The Great Outdoors”
My kind of vacay!!!!
Smart move with the sporty bikini top!
I have a suburban/urban background, finding myself single years ago, choosing more of a university town atmosphere, I yearn for the moments when my old “camping” days of yore can be utilized. Unlike my parents who retired in their fifties and went around the country in a Transvan, enough room for my three kids and me once and awhile, we liked the canoeing and the evening campfires, too. I dated a fisherman for awhile and went into a nostalgic mode. I loved your own story of all the ways you found to entertain you and your family. Cheerio!
Thank you so much! I’m definitely coming to appreciate the quiet, non-urban moments! 😉