One hundred and seventy-four

Scary Saturday – in the cabin in the woods alone with the mice and the spiders

It’s dark and quiet.  I have a headlamp, my notebook and pen to keep me company.  I wonder what creatures will enter through the two-inch space under the door while I’m sleeping. Something creeks in the side of the cabin I can’t see.  The leftover rain from the storm falls from the tress onto the tin roof when the wind blows.  Each drop makes me jump a little.  My imagination runs wild.  Could there be a serial killer in the woods?  Will I become the stereotypical girl from the horror movie who decides to sleep in an old cabin with no one around when there is danger lurking nearby?  I didn’t notice any goalie-masked strangers on the path from the main cabin – although it was pretty dark…  What if a bear decides to come knocking on my door?  A giant man-eating spider?  I cling to my sleeping bag.

The last time anyone slept in the cabin was ten years ago.  It is now used for storage and the home of mice, bugs, and the occasional animal taking refuge from the elements under the wood deck out front.  My aunt expected me to last 15 minutes.  I bet on lasting the night – I’m stubborn that way.

I once tried to stay overnight in the cabin twenty years ago, but only lasted a few hours – and I had three companions to brave my fears with!  My two cousins, my brother and I decided we were going to spend the night there are kids.  When a raccoon started clawing at the door it freaked us out so much that when the raccoon left, we ran as fast as we could back to the main cottage.

I was determined not to repeat my past mistakes.  I would fight my fear of the dark, of the unknown, of the animals and bugs.  I would stay alone in the cabin overnight! Every time I heard a noise, I breathed deeply and tried to ignore it.  I fought my need to pee – if I went outside in the pitch black my fears might get the best of me.  I left a flashlight beside my sleeping bag.

I tossed and turned for a couple of minutes.  And then surprisingly, I fell asleep.  I woke up a couple of times during the night, but mostly from the uncomfortable feeling of sleeping on a patio cushion on top of a wood bench.  I fought away images of psycho killers with hatchets and rodents defecating in my mouth as I slept.  I faced my fears and made it through the night in the scary cabin alone.

Last cottage story tomorrow… 

One hundred and seventy-three

At the cottage

Having my aunt, uncle, cousin and basically sister (none by blood, but I’ve known them my whole life) decide on a weekend of ‘out of my comfort zone’ activities was a scary thought.  They know what pushes my buttons better than anyone.  They’ve seen my ups and downs through my childhood, to the bad teenage years, to entering my adult life.

In the spirit of the month, I left it completely up to them to decide how I would spend my weekend.  Ideas were thrown around about eating dancing frogs legs or some sort of sea creature that looks like a part of male genitalia.  I was asked whether I’d like to climb a ladder, spray a hornet’s nest and run.  There were jokes of me holding my cousin’s hand while he threw up from food poisoning (which incidentally is not really out of my comfort zone – I’m pretty good at taking care of people in their time of need).

In the end, it was decided that for Food Friday I would have pre-cooked eel (I am NOT a fan of eel), on Saturday I would spend the night by myself at the scary cabin full of mice, giant spiders, some wood furniture, no electricity and a gap of two inches under the door where anything can enter, and on Sunday I would swim in the lake by myself (so the fishes can nibble my toes!) They really took it easy on me!

Food Friday – Eel

According to The ROM Field Guide to Freshwater Fishes of Ontario, the population of eel are declining dramatically likely because of overharvesting and dams that block migration.  American eels are carnivorous, feeding on other fish, invertebrates and frogs.  The reach maturity at 10-20 years in fresh water, then migrate south to the Sargasso Sea, spawn and die.  I’m not sure doing this research before consuming the eel hurt or helped.

The only other time I’ve had eel was at a Japanese restaurant as sushi and it’s my least favourite kind of nigiri sushi.  It was slimy when my uncle took it out of the package.  Imported from China, covered with a teriyaki sauce and pre-cooked, it glistened under the kitchen lights.  Don’t eat the skin, my uncle warned, as he sliced off a chunk and gave it to me to try first.  The slippery fish slid in my fingers, as I threw it in my mouth and chewed.  Sweet, tender, actually really tasty.  I had another slice.  It was really growing on me.  The teriyaki made it much better than my other experience with eel.  I stopped thinking about the long, carnivorous, snake-like fish that patrols the waters in search of my toes (ok, maybe not, as they aren’t in the Lake of Bays where we are and probably don’t care about my toes, but still creeps me out).

Unlike my tongue experience, sometimes trying a new food means you discover something you like!

More cottage stories to follow…