Shutting up the Cottage – Guest Post…


This poem describes a very Canadian ritual. Many cottages nowadays are really holiday houses accessible all through the year and boasting every mod con, but the one in this poem is a log cabin on a small lake. It could only be reached by boat or by a long and arduous trek through the woods. It was first published in Hill Spirits (Blue Denim Press 2012), an anthology of poems and stories by writers from Northumberland County, Ontario.

Shutting up the Cottage

October again and we’re crammed in the car,

Gawping at splotches of operatic trees

singing their swan song, facing south.

Ah! How like Thomson, we cry,

or Jackson, or even MacDonald!

We flick through landscapes, as

though they were plates in a book.

The crowded seats are loudly warm

with bundled children, sweaters, and

the dog. No match though for the heated

colours up against the windows.

Above the hill, a white bird

hangs on stiffened wings,

peers at the brassy copse below

and drops behind the crest.


We’re driving north—but not yet far

enough to register the cold hillsides.

We cling to jewelled showers of falling leaves.

And at the cottage, walking under trees,

a slick, wet shining under sodden feet,

wood paths bubble with

children’s summer laughter.

The water line is coiled and sleeps—

a guardian snake beneath the floor.

The games we played together and the books

we read alone are stacked away.

Essential stores, canned tight against the mice,

are lined precisely on the shelves,

bright soldiers for the winter.

The fire is out and in its ebbing warmth

we bolt the shutters against storms

to come. The padlock on the door will yield

our shelter to a visitor in need,

but hold our secrets fast.

Those evenings when, backs slumped

hands cradled a flange of cards above

the scarlet, painted surface of the table,

faces, convulsed with laughter,

confronting others full of anger and despair.

As cards drifted pale and slippery

into the lamp-lit pool, reddened light

smeared the players’ cheeks, bulging

with the cruel glee of tricoteuses.

The days of plunging into dark water

are over for the year.

The wild adventures and the stories,

that we never told, float under

the rafters waiting for spring.


It’s time to leave,

to turn from winter stalking on

the forest’s edge, spilling down the hills,

on whose northern flanks,

black furrows stripe a field.

A flock of gulls speckles

the ground, like old bones.

The dying grass lies pallid

Against the fence. Clouds

screen great poles of light that

strike pale stones, dark soil alike.

Later, after dusk, we meet

the sequined city. Shuttles of light

weave patterns between the stars

and diamond glitter drives out

memories of autumn colours.

The cabin crouches dark and quiet.

Felicity Sidnell Reid

Visual 3D Promo Felicity Sidnell

Barnes & Noble




15 thoughts on “Shutting up the Cottage – Guest Post…

  1. Beautiful words and cadence. Truly lovely, but wouldn’t they prefer a house-sitter? I’d be more than happy to bundle warmly and brave the cold, safely wrapped in Canada’s arms and no longer afraid here in America.
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMore dot com)
    – ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder –
    “It takes a village to transform a world!”

    Liked by 3 people

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