Someday soon, I’ll tell you about our great northern escape to my sister-in-law and brother-in-law’s cottage–which they call “the camp” (less pretentious)–and which, despite its beautiful lakeside location, will never be referred to as “the lake house” (even more pretentious) or “the compound” (we are obviously not Kennedys).
Every summer should include a vintage cottage, don’t you think?
Even if it does take approximately 8 hours of driving, countless close encounters with partridge, deer, foxes, and chipmunks (whose furry and feathered mamas and papas obviously never taught them to look both ways for the killer automobiles before they crossed the road), several “comfort” breaks and once, a very treacherous 4-hour detour to nowhere thanks to our bewildered GPS, Emily, who didn’t understand that long-abandoned logging roads from 1950 and bouldered creek beds that have been dry since the same era were not actually ROADS, to get there.
That’s another story and suffice it to say that Emily and I are no longer on speaking terms.
But, hurrah, we arrived without incident at the camp this time and I immediately rushed from the car to one of my favourite features: the vintage outhouse.
I had been holding it since Mattawa and oh sure, there is indoor plumbing at this vintage cottage but, where’s the fun in that?
Maybe you thought that since I am sometimes a little reluctant vis-a-vis The Nature, that I would never darken the door of one of these crescent-moon-bedecked beauties.
In fact, I consider myself a bit of a vintage outhouse connoisseur and really, who wouldn’t want that written on their tombstone?
The outhouse at this camp is quite the snazzy specimen. Not only does it boast the requisite reading material (Ontario Out of Doors), but it has a light–all the better to see the mosquitoes with–, a genuine, real-for-true linoleum floor, walls of gleaming white and fetching ivy stenciled around.
Such a refined and genteel outhouse it is, that I’m tempted to upgrade the name of the whole place to “The Compound”.
Take that, Kennedys.
I see your Martha’s Vineyard and raise you one McLaren’s Bay.
The outhouse attached to the Little Cottage at my grandparents’ 60s cottage was not the fanciest version but it holds great affection as it was the first foray I can remember into the world of outhouses. The Little Cottage was the original “bunkie” on the property, relegated to guest quarters and later a playhouse for us grandkids after the main cottage was built.
Oooh and its outhouse was replete with vintage charm and a certain je ne sais quoi.
First, you exited the one-room Little Cottage through a door into a slatted “hallway” that was for all intents and purposes, outside (all the better for allowing the midnight moon to shine through), complete with a small sink and mirror. A right turn and another door opened to to the throne itself, festooned with Reader’s Digests galore and, if my memory serves, some of-the-era carpeting and a can of air freshener.
I think that was the je ne sais quoi.
More recently, I have frequented an outhouse that is not vintage, but harkens back to yesteryear with its wooden structure and back-to-basics design. It involves a slightly perilous climb up a sandy, milkweed and thistle-dotted hill and a door that refuses to stay shut, despite the handy log kept nearby for just that purpose. Also, our friends must have been anticipating very tall visitors. Assuming the position (after a bit of a running jump) causes me, at nearly 6 feet tall, to have dangling feet. It’s worth the slight indignities and aerobic exercise however, for this outhouse boasts a magnificent salvaged window with a glorious view over the pond.
But, the leader in the outhouse division has always been the outhouse at my aunt and uncle’s cottage: the Stoker Bay outhouse.
(Sound the trumpets.)
With its twin side-by-side holes (one with pink toilet seat, one with blue), chalkboard (for composing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry) and Outhouse Poetry Notebook (for the rhyming couplet gems that just shouldn’t be lost to a chalkboard eraser), it was the standard to which all other outhouses have been held, since.
The double seater outhouse is such a rarity these days. I’m sure I’m not the only one who yearns for those cozy-up-with-a-friend bathroom times because visiting this outhouse was an EVENT.
In the summer, it was hot and full of mosquitoes, deer flies and the odd directionally-challenged tree frog.
In the winter, you had to sit with your snowpants on the seat for a while to warm it up before getting down to the deed.
But no matter the season, you could take a friend (or, let’s face it, become friends as a result) and sit, shorts around ankles, slapping at mosquitoes or shivering while dreaming up your latest outhouse poem.
Now, those were some classic moon-June-spoon ditties, let me tell you.
We pause and ponder life and lunch,
We think of bikes and art,
We ruminate on all things fine,
and then, of course, we fart.
Oh, my years of writing Stoker Bay Outhouse Poetry have served me well, haven’t they?
This high-brow art form was, of course, most appreciated–if at all–by those under 13 (or those slightly intoxicated or those with a Y chromosome or any combination thereof).
Even if a couple of visitors weren’t feeling particularly poetically-inclined, one look through the slightly damp, dog-eared Outhouse Poetry Notebook and the giggling would ensue.
And, if you haven’t giggled in an outhouse, well, you really haven’t lived.