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Forest Paradise

(Part Three of the 2014 segment of the Cottage diary)

How Sweet it is...
Tuesday, July 15, 2014 – at the lake

Finally!  Life at the lake has settled down.  We’re comfortable, and things work.

Electricity, running water, showers (even hot ones), barbecue, telephone, and a basic, email-only, ten-kilobyte-per-second Internet connection.  All in good running order.  There is a problem with ants this year, but as far as Heather is concerned, poison is too good for them, and they are not going to win.

So we sit, and read, and listen to the raindrops pattering on the roof.

For there is a lot of rain.  It’s not as bad as Winnipeg, where the army has been called in to help sandbag, but it has rained here more days than the sun has shone, so far.  You should have seen us heading off to church on Sunday morning!  We had reasonably nice clothes on (I prefer to dress “up” for church, rather than go casual), and we wore our bright yellow raincoats over that, and hats to keep heads dry.  Then as the boat pulled away from the shore, Heather put up an enormous golf umbrella, which covered both her, and me – except for my left arm, which thrust out into the elements in order to steer, using the boat’s electric motor.  Six minutes later we moored at the landing, ran up through the trees to the car, and drove off.  We had to turn on the car’s heater for a while, because there were still parts of us that needed to dry out.  We made it to church just as the opening hymn was announced.

However, rain or shine, the lake is beautiful.  At the end of a very wet Sunday I stood on our dock and took the picture you see here.  I ask you, what could be more lovely?

A tranquil lake, with perfectly still water, and a faint pink hue reflected from the evening sky
Craig’s Lake, at evening, after rain (13 July, 2014)

Quick Update
Sunday, July 20, 2014 – at the lake

Just to let you know, We’ll be driving to Boston, Massachusetts on July 24, and will be staying there with Rachael and Michael over the weekend.

From there, we’ll return to Canada, to a suburb of Montreal, to spend a couple of days with some friends on their wedding anniversary.  We should be back at the lake by July 31.

During our travels, we will very likely have high-speed Internet capability, but for now, this low-speed blog page is the only way I can post what we’re up to and where we’re going.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014 – at the lake

Heather has a philosophy.  If the creature has more than four legs, it does not deserve to live.

A few days ago,
we were going across the lake to visit friends for the afternoon.  As our boat pulled up to their dock, I spotted a large dock spider – body as wide as a 10¢ coin, its leg span at least four centimetres (almost 2 in.).  The thing was right where Heather would step as she got out of the boat.  I sent it a mental message, “Run, spider, run!”   But it paid no attention.


It continued to wriggle a bit – this was a big and strong one, I assure you.  A second stomp did the trick, and Heather proceeded calmly up the path to our friends’ cottage.  The woman of the place applauded Heather’s noble deed, while we husbands looked at one another knowingly.

This moment became for me some sort of symbol of Heather’s ferocity when it comes to things with many legs, and it has a bearing on what happened in our cabin after we returned from our trip to Boston.

The trip itself was everything we could have hoped, and more.  It deserves a blog page all to itself, and may one day get one.  But for now, I’m going to tell you what happened next.

We returned to Canada after four days in Boston, and, as planned, spent several more days visiting our friends in Hudson, Québec, just outside Montreal.  Then we came back to our little forest paradise.

We had been away for an entire week.  The cottage was locked, and all the windows closed, so we unlocked, brought in our groceries, and proceeded to open windows and generally settle back in to cottage life.

We didn’t see the thing right away.  But Heather, who likes everything to be tidy, suddenly noticed that there was a terrible mess on our stove.  This is not a stove for cooking, I should add, it is a wood-burning enclosed fireplace that sits near the centre of the cottage, its chimney running straight up through the roof.

The mess looked like a clump of cooked rice – about two cups worth – sitting on the surface of the stove.  Plus a lot of dead ants.  This clump of “rice” was actually moving a bit, because there were several living ants in it... ants just being “born,” emerging out of their larval eggs – for that is what the pile of white stuff was: ant eggs.

Do ants build nests on steel fireplaces?

No they don’t.  But they do build them in the wooden structure of cottages, and these had built theirs in the ceiling, directly over the stove.

Shortly before we left for Boston, Heather got me to squirt ant poison at a small opening in the ceiling, right beside the chimney.  She was certain that she had seen ants coming from that hole.  I squirted, and not long afterwards, we left for Boston.

Well, it seems that there was a full-sized colony up there.  Very likely the poison had created pandemonium in the colony, so the worker ants, in agony from the poison, carried the eggs down the chimney to the top of the fireplace, piled them up neatly, and died.

Well, the cottage now required a total multi-front attack.  This was decreed by Heather, who must be obeyed, especially when it comes to ants, and bugs in general.

So, I began to clean up the mess of eggs and ant corpses – dousing them with an additional dose of poison just to be on the safe side.  There were dead ants everywhere – not only on the fireplace near the eggs, but on all sides of the floor around it, and corpses could be found radiating out from this central collection, into the bedrooms, and halfway across the living room rug and towards the kitchen.

I ended up with a major vacuum job – especially since Heather had also discovered spider webs over our bed, and the remains of many a spider-eaten fly on the bedclothes.

Vacuum under the bed, and behind the dresser, and along the ceiling, and into the living room and all around the fireplace, and under the rug... and... well, you get the idea.

Eventually there was no sign of the former ant colony, and not a living ant to be seen... for a day or two anyway.

It was, in fact, two days later.  I was enjoying a beautiful afternoon, sitting down on the dock with a book, when I heard a shout from the cottage.  It wasn’t a scream, per se, but close.  I rushed up to find Heather on her feet and heading for the aerosol ant poison as fast as she could go.  The cushion on her footstool was turned over, and there, underneath it were hundreds of eggs and squirming ants.

They didn’t stand a chance.  Poison hit them and the footstool and the legs of the footstool and the floor in its general vicinity.  Heather stopped spraying, went over to the fireplace and stomped on something there: “Ha!  I got the queen!”

Evidently another collection of eggs had been stowed under that cushion, and they had hatched, probably only moments before they were discovered.  The queen ant had stepped up on the top of the cushion, where Heather spotted her.  The creature ducked back under the cushion, but she had given her location away.  Heather lifted the cushion, and that’s when I heard her shout.

All those baby ants – and their queen – are now no more.

Finally peace has settled upon our forest paradise... that is, a full week has passed, and it does looks like all ants are gone.

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Next: Already!  It’s time to go.

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