So we capped off a good summer with a trip north that ended just before the start of school.
My sister left her cottage the night before we did. She packed and cleaned. We swam and played cards. She left with plenty of time to catch the boat back to the mainland.
About seventeen minutes before All Ashore Who's Going Ashore sounded, we got a frantic phone call. My nephew's passport was sitting on a shelf in the kitchen. I grabbed the passport, zipped across the island, and handed off the passport to my frantic sister.
"It's always a mad dash," she told me.
The next morning we were on target for a calm and unharried departure. The van was packed. The house was clean. Tim was begging me to fry up the whopper of a bass he had landed. I told him that I would cook the fish if everything else was finished by 10:30.
At 10:30, we were in fine form. I fried the fish and moved on to my final three jobs: pour a product called The Works into the toilets, empty my parents' trash, spiffy my parents' kitchen. I hit the downstairs bathroom. No problem. Then I entered the upstairs bathroom. Big problem. Big, yucky problem that, out of respect for my readers' sensibilities, I will not detail here.
The plunger, I knew from an earlier incident, was down the beach at my parents' house. Not a problem. I'd grab the trash, grab the plunger, spiffy the kitchen, and come back to plunge.
The clock was ticking, and the morning that had gone so smoothly was now feeling decidedly pinched.
I got in the van and immediately began to interrogate the usual suspects.
"Who shoved all the paper into the toilet," I yelled to the back of the van.
"Not me, " said Tim.
"Not me, " said Kolbe.
"Not me, " said John.
"I did it," croaked Ainsley.
Truth be told, there was no need to ask. Sitting right beside the malfunctioning Loo was a pair of pink flowered panties, size 3T. I need to inform Ainsley that if she's going to manhandle the sewage system, she'd better do a quick sweep for evidence before exiting the scene of the crime.
So we pulled up to my parents' house. I told Tim to grab the trash. He couldn't budge the bag. Two days before, a veritable monsoon had moved over Lake Erie. Both the over-sized bag -- my Dad calls it a "body bag" -- and the can were overflowing with water. We wrestled the bag out of the can and lugged it over to the van. Unable to think up a better idea, I poked a bunch of holes in the bag which immediately spurted a viscous soup of rain water and trash seasoned with mounds of old coffee grounds. I was showered in it. Shoes soaked, legs dripping.
Tim and I wrung out the bag as best we could, grabbed the plunger, and headed back to my sister's. Mom and Dad's kitchen would not be spiffied that morning. The clock was ticking. The Waste Transfer Station -- a.k.a the dump -- was closing shortly, we had a boat to catch, and I was starting to panic.
Back in my sister's bathroom, there was like two rolls of toilet paper stuffed into the woebegone toilet. Suffice it to say, the job demanded a little fishing expedition before I could even plunge. I put the, um, refuse into a large Solo cup and plunged and plunged and plunged and tried hard not to think about the clock ticking away.
Free at last, free at last, I sprinted down to the van and hurled the non-biodegradable Solo cup 'o refuse into the woods where it will remain for the next 800 years or so. I hopped in the van, threw it in reverse, and checked the time. We would make it to the Waste Transfer Station with minutes to spare.
Heart racing, legs covered with coffee grounds, nostrils sucking fresh air, I put the pedal to the metal and cranked up a CD I had swiped from my parents along with the plunger.
A classic -- David Cassidy of Partridge Family fame belting out Heyyyyyyyy! I think I love you! So what am I so afraid of? I'm afraid that I'm not sure of a love there is no cure for!
Really, does it get any better than this? Once again, I'm ten years old, wearing bell bottom jeans and a striped turtleneck, spinning one of David Cassidy's forty-fives on my parents' record player.
I don't know what I'm up against. I don't know what it's all about. I got so much to think about. Heyyyyyyyy! I think I love you!
I was rocking out as we sped across Pelee Island to the dump.
My kids were slack-jawed, gawking at me in disbelief.
"Okay, Mom," Tim told me gently. "You're scaring me."
We pulled into the dump at 11:51, well before closing time at noon. I got out of the van, still trying to breath deeply, still trying to bring my heart rate down, still trying to ignore the fact that my hands, legs, and shoes were covered with all manner of ick.
"I am calm. I am calm," I kept repeating to myself.
"That'll be two dollars," said the man at the dump, eyeing me with suspicion.
Body bags unloaded, we headed to the dock where I was able to locate the diaper wipes and at least make some attempt at sanitizing myself.
And that, my friends, is the story of the first nine miles of a seven hundred mile trip.
To paraphrase Winston Churchill, it was not the end; it was not the beginning of the end; it was, perhaps, the end of the beginning.
And if you're wondering why my gallant husband was not plunging the toilet and handling trash detail, I did the return trip south solo. Yes, me, four kids, one van, twenty-seven bags, six states, one Canadian Province, and a Partridge Family CD.
Come back tomorrow for part II of The Long and Winding Road That Leads to My Door. I promise to touch on a few more topics related to bodily functions.
So you have that to look forward to.