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COLIN AND JUSTIN: Thawed out and ready for action

Let the sunlight in. Make sure your windows are sparkling to flood your rooms with light.
Let the sunlight in. Make sure your windows are sparkling to flood your rooms with light.

As confirmed cottagers, not even the prospect of congested highways, empty shelves at the LCBO or black flies (we hope there’ll be less of the airborne menace this year, our premise being that larvae may have been stunted by Canada’s extended ice age) will curb our enthusiasm as summer looms.

Like many folk, however, we remain mindful that multiple tasks require careful attention ahead of warmer climes.  If your cottage is winterised, then the job list is likely to be smaller, but if your retreat is more of a two or three-season affair, your time will be busily consumed.

And so, ahead of summer 2019, we thought we’d compose a "must do" check list to help prepare for the coming months.  Our best advice?  Stay ahead of problems before they arise.  To fail to plan, after all, is to plan to fail.  Here’s the skinny…

Be vigilant

As soon as you return post absence, have a preliminary walk-around to pinpoint aspects that need attention.  Trim back any overhanging branches, shrubbery or foliage that’s encroaching upon roof lines: at best, overgrown horticulture will give critters easy access to your home, at worst it can be a fire hazard.

It may be that windows have shifted or cracked, so repair glazing as quickly as possible.  Appraise deck surfaces and repair loose or damaged boards.  And don’t forget those shingles: a damaged or missing tile mightn’t seem a big deal, but wear and tear such as this can become a massive problem if left unattended.

Avoid Dock Shock

When putting your dock back in , ensure it’s properly anchored. Re position and replace flotation mechanisms if undermined, and ensure hardware items (such as cleats, dock rings and rope attachment points) are in good order.  Overlook these matters at your peril and face problems as the season endures.

Water works

If you seasonally disconnected everything to avoid frozen pipes, it’s time to reconnect and then prime and start your water pump.  NB: refill the hot water tank before turning it on.  One of our neighbours neglected to do this and it burnt out, necessitating a complete – and costly – replacement.  Hire a pro’ (if you’re in any way unsure about any of this) to avoid recreating the Shelley Winters swimming scenes from The Poseidon Adventure. You know it makes sense…

Vanquish Those Vermin

After prolonged absence, check for droppings in drawers and closets, then disinfect surfaces and crockery.  If there’s evidence of mice invasion, try dotting room perimeters with peppermint or clove oil, or opt for a spray product and pull the damned trigger.

I f deterrents such as these fail, traps might be the answer.  It’s a personal choice thing: humane (catch and release) or permanent, ahem, "dispatch" devices are easily found in hardware stores, but consult with staff to ensure that those you select don’t pose a threat to children or pets.

Finally, empty linen cupboards and wardrobes to ensure squirrels haven’t been throwing a party (you’ll know: there be nuts in your undies and seeds in your stockings) and use steel wool (it’s almost impossible for critters to penetrate) to plug holes where pipes exit your cottage.

Pantry Politics

Replenish water, soft drinks and ‘party fluids’.  Discard any foodstuffs that show rodent or bug infestation, though this shouldn’t be an issue if perishables were stored in tins or glass jars.  Remember that a crumb of anything edible represents a veritable feast for mice, so be a good soldier and remain on guard at all times.

Emergency Box

Stock up on candles, batteries and flashlights and update emergency contact lists so that help can be summonsed, if required, by you or your guests.

Medicine Cabinet

Next, turn your attentions to self-care.  Make sure you’ve got calamine lotion, rubbing alcohol, tweezers, sun screen, bug spray and general items like Band Aid, antihistamines and pain management tablets.

But most importantly – don’t become so consumed by prep’ stress that you forget to have fun. When everything has been taken care of, make time to relax .  Retrieve your deck furniture from storage, grab a beverage, and put your feet up!

Heeding our counsel, we’ll pay particular attention to the booze quotient, though before cracking the beers, we’ve a task sheet to compose. No, wait a minute – scratch that.  A chilled Coors could prove just the job to heighten focus. Yup, albeit winterized, there is much to be done in our cottage before the May 24 shuttle touches down…

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2019

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