Nature Deficit Disorder and the Cottage Preseason Opener

pexels-photo-42240Nature deficit disorder appears to be a real thing and spending time at the cottage provides a great fix. As part of this, my family and I have been unintentionally creating additional habitat for various invasive species for almost 17 years.

We purchased an A-frame cottage on Lake Winnipeg to get closer to nature.The two-story cottage and the open design allow everyone in the family their own personal space. The metal roof and cedar siding keeps out the elements, but not the rodents, which need their own personal space.

Opening the cottage after a long winter became a joyous occasion for the family. The main reason for this joy includes my travelling to the cottage by myself beforehand and conducting a cottage preseason opener. Like baseball spring training, I do some preliminary cleaning to work out the bugs. And of course by bugs, I do mean insects and other things that would drive away family members till the incident was forgotten.

In the first year, the flat roof over the sunroom leaked. The good news was that the vapor barrier captured all the water. The bad news was that these bags of tarry water hanging from the ceiling pushed out the ceiling tiles and made the room reminiscent of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  Making an incision in the hanging cocoon and draining the water remedied the situation.

We recently installed a small outdoor hot tub that we can plug-in for the summer. When lifting the lid for the first time of the season, I ask please don’t let me find a dead small mammal inside. This is only exceeded by the triple please of don’t let me find a terrified, alive and wanting to escape small mammal inside. So far, we have been good.

When cleaning outside, I use the gas-powered leaf blower to man-dust the decks. I do walk through the cottage, engine off, to clean the upper deck. Only a few times has it passed my mind to quickly man-dust the interior. Who would really know? But there are the gas fumes. So next year I am so going electric leaf blower. The gas blower works very well in the garage, especially if no one is watching.

Inside the cottage, checking all of the furniture, particular the beds, for mouse droppings, comes next. We keep the cottage warm during the winter, so finding a soft fluffy mouse nest in one of the beds is not beyond consideration. A mouse nest would require a cathartic cleansing of the linens. And by cleansing, I mean burning.

Cleaning inside causes a bit less stress. The freezer has to be cleaned out to make room for the coming summer. Sometimes this means tossing everything. Sometimes this means not letting things go to waste. This spring I had to dispose of a half container of crystalized ice cream, and by dispose of I mean eat. It tasted liked solidified sugar. And regret.

The main event involves crawling beneath the cottage. We have this area closed in, insulated and covered in plastic. Dark, dusty, bit mildewy, no one could hear you scream, if you even had the chance.

One late fall, some mid-sized mammals had moved in underneath the cottage. The tunnel they dug underneath the wall enclosing the bottom of the cottage allowed the cold winter air to directly hit the pipe coming up out of the ground from the well pump. This resulted in no well water for the rest of the winter and no working toilets. So during the summer, I closed off their hole and installed more furnace venting to direct heat towards the corner to prevent the pipes from freezing. The following winter, the hole was redug, and the venting was ripped apart. Apparently they didn’t like the air flow. They continued to show their displeasure by scat throughout the level beneath the cottage. Mid-size mammal droppings are a general sign to be careful, but I would swear that the droppings were arranged into an actual sign that said ‘stay away’. It may have been the darkness.

The forested property provides a tremendous view of the lake, which with the waves can look more like the ocean. Lake Winnipeg suffers from some eutrophication. Surface runoff from the extensive watershed and fertilizer use creates algae blooms. These blooms create green waves with the consistency of green paint. Waves glurp when hitting the shore. And waves should never glurp. Not a sound you want to have alongside your morning coffee.

At some point during the summer the sun brings out the flowers and butterflies. When the family comes to the cottage, the BBQ comes out, along with the home-made beer, bicycles and kayaks. This sooths the nature deficit disorder somewhat, and we continue to get inoculated as often as possible. There remains a difference between watching nature, and nature watching you. Nature normally comes at night, with many pairs of eyes that appear to glow in the dark. But, we are intervening into nature’s arena and we should be respectful. And watchful. Always watchful.

 

 

Photo by mali maeder from Pexels https://www.pexels.com/photo/snow-wood-forest-winter-42240/

Biking Cambodia-Hanoi stopover

Brent and I managed to snag a couple of free coupons for egg coffee. Yes, raw egg dropped into your coffee like cream apparently. Quite tasty.

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The restaurant is actually on the second floor and there is only a small alley to access it. Something that no one would head down without someone with you.

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In Hanoi, I tried to capture the amazing dance of the scooters. How they manage to mingle about is amazing.

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In the evening, people gather around the lake. A central spot for socialization.

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A couple were having their photos taken for their upcoming celebrations. So  I couldn’t resist.

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Biking Cambodia-Hanoi Stopover

Brent and I are just in the process of looking over the courtyard to the entrance of the National University.

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We grab one more photo at the entrance to the University.IMG_3762

We leave the grounds and start walking back to our hotel. You can see that the University is completely enclosed by stone walls. We must have looked like we knew what we were doing since we were stopped by other tourists looking for a way in to the University.

Scooter transporst is really the way the majority of people get around in Hanoi. Don’t forget. Don’t show any fear.

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Here is an interior shot of the mall I had described earlier. There are numerous car dealerships inside. The pockets of wealth are amazing considering the poverty you see everywhere else.

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Biking Cambodia-Hanoi Stopover

Brent and I continued our tour of the National Museum in Hanoi. Some of the ancient texts are shown below.

The courtyard holds displays of various graduates. The Plaque show below describes how they retained the dedication steles of some of the oldest graduates. These were erected on turtles. One of the four holy creatures.

 

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The Dragon was a great attraction. I attempted to find out a bit mroe about the urn. But you can see the dragon relief on top of the building in the background. The dragon is one of the countries four holy creatures.

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Biking Cambodia-Hanoi Stopover

 

 

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Here we are at the National University, Quoc Tu Giam. Established in 1076. The Temple of Literature refers to the Temple of Confucius. Very serene.

The plaque describes some of the activities. Second photo is one of the Khue Van Pavilion leading to the second courtyard.

My friend is in front of the Third Courtyard of the temple with the Thien Quang well.

Turtle Steles lists names of graduates.

 

 

Biking Cambodia-Hanoi Stopover

Our bike journey finally starts in Hanoi. We get there a few days early in order to take in the sites. We are bascially in old Hanoi. As you can see, from the rooms, they treat their vistors quite well. The beds were nicely adorned.

The first night we wander over to Hoam Kiem Lake. Lake of the Returned Sword. The lake is one of the major scenic spots and serves as a focal point for social life.

The statue of Ly Thai To is beside the lake and wasthe founder of the Later Ly Dynasty in Vietnam and reigned from 1009 to 1028.

The walking path goes around the entire lake and is a great way to see the night life in the city.