Tanya Enberg: Unexpected Mother


When the Summer Family Vacation Turns Out Crappy


The bed was lopsided and right slap in the middle was a giant crater spanning the length. It felt like it was lined with daggers.

But who needs sleep? When you’re staying at a ‘cozy’ rented cottage in stunning Haliburton, Ont., there are far worse things than sleeping terribly.

For instance, it could be cold and rainy almost every day.

We could have random thunderstorms and water levels so high that it wipes out any sign of beachfront.

We could also realize that the main rooms inside the cottage have no heat and that the place has an unshakeable dampness to it. It could then dawn on us that we’ve packed only summer clothing because, well, it’s summer and who the heck packs winter garb in July?

Not us. No sir.

So when the unseasonably chilly weather and storms started rolling in, we did the only thing we could — laugh. Oh, and we went shopping to buy long-sleeved shirts, hoodies and socks for our baby boy.

Until this vacation, I never realized how much a week could drag when you’re stuck in a small, dank, wood-paneled shack most of the time. Usually I want my getaways to stretch out, to every joy-filled minute of it.

Not this time. Couldn’t hit the gas pedal fast enough to flee back to the city.

But, we made the most of it.

During the rare warm stints, I went for long country runs where I was surrounded by statuesque trees and was even treated to the occasional critter sighting, such as the opossum hauling a fresh slab of road kill into the forest for lunch (yum, yum!) and an enthusiastic army of deer and horse flies that relentlessly swarmed me.

But I’ve got survival skills, boy oh boy, and I wasn’t about to let these nasty biters get even a tiny dollop of my blood. I am a former Girl Scout, after all, and during my badge-earning years I’d certainly learned a thing or two about the wilderness.

Fending off flies requires ingenuity and perseverance. Basically I grabbed four long sticks and started swinging them about. I looked like a crazy person. I’d hoped to either distract them or interest them in dried up pieces of dead wood instead of my fresh, sweaty, living flesh.

I did not.

Anyway, let’s move on to other fun family vacation things.

My hubby got sick with a cough and sore throat. So did Baby B, who was cranky and bellowing for two days and also decided that 5:30 a.m. was the perfect wake-up hour for cottage life. He also got peppered with about a 100 splinters all over his hands, feet and legs. Who needs to sand down a deck anyway?

But we ate well. Lots of impeccably seasoned barbecued steak, chicken, cobs of corn and sweet peppers. We made French toast and deluxe scrambled eggs for breakfast and enjoyed prosciutto and cheese toasties for lunch.

We also plowed through plenty of movies.

Thankfully the cottage came equipped with a DVD player and, due to my hubby’s absolute refusal to allow me sell our DVDs, we have quite the collection.

The ominous dark clouds outside gave us the chance to snuggle up on the creaky old futon and finally catch up on some oldies but goodies — classic flicks such as So I Married an Axe Murderer, Jerry MaGuire and My Cousin Vinny — because when you’re spending time surrounded by nature, who the heck wants to actually spend time in nature?

Yes we had a splendid time indeed.

Don’t let our decision to come home early fool you.

We simply missed the downtown smog, comfy beds, sleep and were longing for warmth. 

Good news though — I didn’t get a single deer or horse-fly bite the entire time.

The lesson here, if it isn’t already obvious, is never, ever mess with a stick-wielding Girl Scout.