The squeals of kids’ laughter have subsided, and the rich greens of summer have given way to an artists palette of reds, golds and oranges. The screen door on the porch still slaps shut with the same familiar “whap,” but you know its days are numbered. Winter is on its way, and the time has come to close the cottage for the season.
Some newbies might just empty the fridge, shut down the main power breaker and call it a day. But unless your summer retreat is a thoroughly modern new home, and you plan to return often, this would be a mistake. Much better to plan for the challenges winter brings, and know you’ll return to a cottage that’s ready for fun first day of spring.
Here’s our list of recommended Cottage Closing Chores:
- Empty, defrost and shut down fridge/freezer
- Clear water pipes – use an air compressor or strong vacuum in reverse to blow out any low spots.
- Don’t forget the fridge lines if you have an ice maker.
- Put earth-safe antifreeze in toilets and drains
- Vacuum all air filters (AC, furnace)
- Get chimney swept if you plan winter visit
- Close flue, and if not planning to visit in winter, maybe block chimney from the very top. Put a sign in the fireplace/stove to remind yourself.
- Replace screens with storm windows or shutters
- Check screens/grates on dryer vent, water heater vent, etc.
- Use steel wool or other material to block critters from entering
- Trim and pile brush that can weather over the winter and be ready for a beach fire in the spring
- Put out driveway stakes for the snowplow driver
- If you use propane tanks, disconnect and take with you if possible
A list like this can take up an entire weekend, but it’s important to realize that this is not really why you’re here. It’s more to pay homage to another great summer season in a place you love. So take time off to stroll the beach and woods one last time, now flipping up the collar of your jacket against a breeze with a hint of winter in it. Soak in the colors, and return to the cottage to enjoy warm soup and crusty bread. Build the last beach fire of the season and break out some s’mores. Stare at the sky impossibly filled with stars, until it’s time to retire to the cottage for a euchre marathon and maybe a bit of cider.
If you build strong traditions around cottage closing weekend, it will be something that you and your family look forward to, making the melancholy work of shutting the place down more bearable, and also more likely to get done. Enjoy yourself. And remember, spring is just around the corner…