With iPhone in hand, we ventured the 996 km to our cottage last week. While we were away we needed to communicate with our offices and clients. We plotted our trip, en route and easily calculated the extra distances required for each little detour, including a client visit on the way. Google Maps served us well. The Gas Cubby app helped us track the cost of every fill up.
Every year when we arrive at the cottage, all the doors and windows are shuttered; the water and the power are turned off. After unlocking and removing the backdoor shutter, the first job is to navigate through the very dark house to find the power box in the back bedroom. Using the Flashlight app on my iPhone I was able to see my way to throw the switch. The challenge is always to avoid the winterkill of mouse carcasses but, thankfully, this year there were none.
The St. Lawrence River is tidal at our cottage location. It is much more fun to go to the beach when the tide is out and the Schralp Tide Charts app, tells us what we need to know – when the tide is high and low Planning a day hike is now easier than ever and we can avoid being stranded somewhere.
Height Finder App
According to Height Finder app, the cottage is 230.7 feet above sea level. When you are climbing up our path from the beach you may think it is much more.
Carpentry tasks always populate our to do list. This trip we planned to dig a veggie garden. We constructed a 2×10 frame with a superstructure for netting to deter the deer. We used the Level App to set the frame in place. My iPhone was already in my pocket. The real carpenters level was in the tool shed – a 100-yard walk back down the hill through the woods.
The calculator on my iPhone also came in handy when calculating the area for new carpet installation and comparing the per-foot and per-yard pricing.
When we were at the nursery, we Googled a plant name to find out if the specific variety of plant might thrive in our specific location, full sun, zone 2. The nursery vocabulary was beyond my current French capabilities.
French-English Dictionary App
Ah, but I found the French-English Dictionary app which is a big help for rebuilding my vocabulary. At the beginning of the cottage season, my French is pretty rusty.
For each trip to town, we used Notes on my iPhone to make lists of things to get at the nursery, the hardware store, the grocery store .
For the Birds
Bird watching is one of the great delights at the cottage, especially in May. While the Peterson Field Guide is still my ready reference book, the iBird Explorer Canada app is useful for listening to and trying to identify the warblers, woodpeckers and sea birds. This year we saw Snow Geese flying northeast, in formation. Other small migratory birds arrived while we were there and we were able to identify a Blackburnian Warbler, an American Redstart, Black and White Warbler. We also listened to their songs on the iPhone to help identify them.
Some members of my household (those who jog) have to know what the temperature is and how hard the wind is blowing. With the iPhone we can easily and quickly check the weather forecast on the Environment Canada website. My ear is not yet able to catch up with the local radio forecast which is toute en français. Last week we thought our old thermometer was broken because it rarely moved from 10C.
Business to business communications
We tethered my iPhone to our laptops and were able to do some real world work while at the cottage. We considered this a suitable rainy day activity. The service was reliable and fast – a far cry from the old dial up service of years past. The land line phone wasn’t working so we were glad to have the iPhone 3G connection.
Old cottage life
Alas, there are no apps to do all the physical chores. We still had to take off, paint and stow the shutters, clean out the eavestrough, vacuum, dust, wash the dishes and windows, etc. But the same joyous pursuits are available to us – hiking, whale watching, bird watching, reading (it rained for 6 of 9 days,) playing board games, and talking to one another. We can paint, carve, embroider, or knit. During my childhood summers at this same cottage we had no phone, no TV, few electrical appliances or tools, and of course, no computers. Part of me wants to turn off all the apps, and another part says, stay connected, keep in touch, keep up, find out what is going, use the new tools and move ahead.