Like many Canadians, my family heads to the lake for the lazy, hazy weekends of our all-too-short summer. Our cottage is located not far from Ottawa in the fittingly named Land o’ Lakes region, and is a year-round residence built in the hope-springs-eternal belief of spending a good part of our retirement there as well. As anyone with three kids in hockey (or any other sport) can imagine, our winter cottage sojourns amounted to a grand total of 2 weekends, the most recent one being in February.
Upon unlocking the door and stepping over the threshold, I anticipated the stale air scent that had accumulated over the months of inhabitation since February but was also overcome with the feeling that someone else had been in our cottage since. Imagine the dismay and disgust when upon entering the cottage for the May long weekend, I confirmed tell-tale signs of a winter squatter. I was stunned, nay, shocked. I found a handful of granola bar wrappers strewn about the kitchen counter. There were crumbs left on the floor. Most alarming of all, the bed covers were a bit dishevelled and the mental image of this uninvited guest – or guests – propagating on my innocent daughter’s bed appalled me (although it is entirely possible she left the bed that way herself).
There is really not much worth stealing in our cottage and no real vandalism so sense of some relief was granted. My husband and eldest had yet to arrive thanks to a Friday night sporting event, but my other two children, and our two dogs who also seemed to sense the intrusion, felt invaded. A quick sweep of the interior yielded no remaining signs of inhabitation and I quickly tidied the already found evidence while opening the windows for airing out. My son even made a few jokes about this intruder who’d found him or herself a pretty ‘sick crib’ for the remaining winter months.
It was he who found our intruder, upon going to the bathroom for the first time since our arrival. It was he who made the grim discovery, that our squatter was a mouse, and had drowned in the toilet bowl presumably seeking relief for his thirst after all those tasty treats. The three of us gathered into the tiny powder room looking mournfully down into the white porcelain tomb. This tiny creature, whom we (I) recently had cursed as a trespasser, was now immobile and was now immortalized with the nickname Splash.
May he rest in peace, or rather flushed in peace (as the ceremony went).