Booze on the bottom ended a perfectly good idea!

Column 117


It was a really good idea. That should have worked.

Last fall, my first husband and I decided to spend a winter week at our very simple, very remote cottage on Georgian Bay. When I say ‘simple’ I mean winter living means hauling buckets of water from a hole in the ice, and shovelling snow out of the outhouse. It means spongebaths.

We did a test weekend in 2013 and so felt we were well prepared. We brought five big jugs of drinking water in the fall and stored it in a leakproof container. We brought in as much firewood as we could, and covered even more with a tarp outside. We moved the barbecue over near the back door so we could reach it.

We bought lots of prepared soups and stews in air tight sealed freezable containers, cereal and crackers, coffee and tea and left it all there in the fall. We left warm clothes. Why? Because we hired a friend with a snowmobile to come pick us up (and Darla, the dog) and ferry us over ice and woods for 45 minutes to our open site on Georgian Bay. We’d have to pack very light to get everything on his little pull-along sled.

It was logical that the single cooler of food we took would not have any room for wine. Or beer. And after a day of snowshoeing and cross country skiing, of hiking on snowmobile trails, well, after barbecuing dinner, a glass of wine, or a long, cool ale might hit the spot. No room for that on the sled.

So last November, I went to the local outdoor store and bought two strong mesh bags with sturdy loops. We put a case of beer in one bag and several bottles of wine (some glass, some tetrapak) in the other. And on our final visit we tied the bags with a coloured rope around one of four upright posts in the dock. We unmoored the dock and secured it by one corner to a nearby island, letting the ‘alcohol’ corner float free, bags deep enough to be well below the ice depth.

As I said, it sounded like a really good idea. That should have worked.

When we got to the cottage 15 days ago, we couldn’t even see the dock. The dock was covered with slush, and then that froze, and then it snowed, and then that froze, and the winds twisted the dock so that we could not see one single rope around one single post anywhere. The dock had certainly shifted. We took an ice auger with us, as well as a steel pry and an axe to try to chip through the ice to the dock post, once we found the dock. Chip, chip, chip… not that post, apparently. On the third post we found one yellow rope. Chip, chip. Uh-ho! Now there’s just the end of a yellow rope nestled in the snow. Have we cut the anchor or the wine?

We kept going, moving to another post. Chip, chip, chip. The post surfaced. And then a multi coloured rope surfaced. We stayed well away from the rope and started the hand auger. All this work was certainly working up our thirst, I’ll tell you that. But ice augers are sharp, and freezing ropes don’t necessarily drop straight down. Sometimes they freeze across a bed of slush and are imbedded in ice and then you don’t know you’ve cut through them with the auger until the auger starts to cough up bits of colour… some red, some blue, some yellow.

Did we cut all the way through? We have no idea. Rest assured there will be real enthusiasm for putting in the dock this spring. Maybe.

I’m thinking about inventing powdered wine. You know, like powdered milk. My first husband just made a retching sound! Okay then, how about powdered beer?

As they say… back to the drawing board!