Well Cractpots, over here in my neck of the woods we are smack dab in the middle of a heatwave in one of the warmest and driest summers on record. Pull up a chair and cool off with a mojito made fresh with mint from my garden, because this is the kind of story better told with a little liquid courage in your system, and no one likes to drink alone.
We’re lucky enough to live on a waterway and last summer bought Stand Up Paddleboard’s to make the most of our locale. SUP’s offer a fun and relaxing way to glide over the water while experiencing a full body workout. The light weight gear makes it easy to explore lakes and rivers while enjoying unique views, standing at full height, of everything from what’s around you, to what’s below you. Our shores offer up such tourist attractions as a historic hydraulic boat lift, beautiful wild life and a majestic looking drug lord’s house slowly being reclaimed by nature.
It’s possible that that last one hasn’t quite made it to the brochure.
For a girl with an overactive imagination though, the stately house looming over the water’s edge had been a source of fascination for years. Shielded from prying eyes from the road by menacing fencing and fortified gates, the 4000sq ft. mansion sat abandoned as the owner navigated the court system battling a variety of charges. Lawyers spent ages arguing whether or not the house could be seized as the proceeds of drug profits but ultimately, after exhausting all legal channels, the Crown took ownership, costing taxpayers an estimated $100,000 in maintenance costs until the forfeited property could be disposed of. As we float by, craning our necks to catch a glimpse of the fountain in the middle of the rounded drive, the view from my rose coloured glasses filtered out any thought of illegal activity and instead imagined garden parties around the koi pond and moonlight views from the terrace.
When the kids asked if they could take a closer look, it stood to reason that surely we wouldn’t be violating anyone’s privacy exploring the grounds of an ownerless house my hard earned tax dollars contributed to maintaining. Heck, a parcel of land under the authority of and managed by the government of Canada is technically a provincial park, so I happily docked my board and ventured into the over grown perimeter of our urban adventure with a clear conscience.
As we crossed the lawn and disappeared into the backyard, our footsteps were muffled by the hum of the cicadas. The courtyard and stone patio had been completely taken over by rambling grape vines. We played on the bridge spanning the long dried up pond and stared longingly at the 2nd floor windows, speculating on the stories they might hold. The ground floor ones were all securely boarded up and had been since long before the government stepped in (a fact provided in the trial against the defendant as evidence that the house was little more than a fortified drug compound). When my daughter found some of the plywood rotting and loose, who was I to protect a criminal mastermind’s attempt to hide his unscrupulous activities? The barred windows were like scars on the grand old dame’s face anyway and letting a little light shine into her darkened depths felt akin to breaking the curse on sleeping beauty’s castle. My heart rate accelerated as my daughter carefully wiggled through and I envisioned wandering the hallways into long abandoned rooms like an archeologist exploring tombs in Egypt. I held my breath as she cleared the space, and as she straightened, let it all out in a terrified yelp as the shrill squeal of an alarm cut through the silence of the day. Apparently my tax dollars had been spent maintaining a lot more than the grounds.
Suddenly we were not brave heroes or modern day explorers, or in my case, even a responsible adult. I ran terrified from the screaming house with no rational thought until I realized that everyone had run in opposite directions. As I grabbed the one closest to me and frantically motioned to the others, I anxiously deliberated on who my one phone call was going to be. Explaining to my husband why I had taken the kids on a field trip to a known felon’s private property for a beginner’s course on breaking and entering suddenly seemed foolhardy. There was no way I was calling my parent’s; I already felt like a kid caught with her hand in the cookie jar (if the cookie jar was actually the home base of an organized crime family)
I decided to focus my attention on escaping as my son looked over his shoulder and squeaked that a police boat was coming up the river. As my paddleboard drunkenly weaved across the channel I blamed the lack of progress on my shaking legs until my daughter helpfully pointed out that I had climbed on backwards and was fighting against the current with the fin. As I prepared myself to turn around and face the authorities, I practiced my poker face and for a moment contemplated denying everything.
Then I remembered that I was a terrible liar…
Aaaaand that perjury was a crime.
I figured it was probably a good idea to try to implement a rule of only breaking one law per outing.
Now please be gentle dear reader. I can imagine you asking yourself what kind of parent gets herself in these kind of predicaments because I ask MYSELF the very same questions. I know as a family we tend to take the road less travelled but in my mind, at the time, I really feel like I have carefully calculated the risks. Like Indiana Jones stepping on the flimsy rope bridge to cross the mile long gorge, I gingerly test each step before letting it bear my full weight…right until the board breaks, sh*t hits the fan and I run screaming “Abort, ABORT” to anyone within earshot.
This is why mothers with active imaginations provide internet message boards with so much ammunition. Of course when you tell the story it all sounds like a horrible idea. But at the time…well, at the time it was a exciting adventure that luckily didn’t end up on anyone’s permanent record.
When I turned to face the music I realized that I was staring into the smiling face of the captain of Pierless; a blue and white pleasure cruiser, out to beat the heat just like we were. I offered a half-hearted wave as he passed and made a mental note to remind my son that reading requires sounding out more than just the first letter. As we climbed out of the water and into the car, I looked into the pale faces of the shaken children huddled in the back seat and sanctimoniously intoned, “crime never pays”. Not every excursion gets to end with a moral, so I try to take advantage when I can.
All’s well that ends well, I always say. Still, with soaring temperatures expected to continue throughout the weekend I’ll refrain from offering any suggestions that might lead you from the heat, into the fire, although I expect that at least a jail cell is air conditioned. To be safe I’ll leave you with a mojito recipe and the promise to try to abstain from getting myself into any more hot water…but who knows,
the life of a Cractpot is perilous.
Place 2 mint sprigs, 1 ounce lime juice, and 1 ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and press gently against the mint with the back of a spoon to release the oils. (Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water boiled until sugar dissolves and then chilled in the refrigerator) Add 2 ounces of rum and a handful of ice and shake vigorously until the mixture is well chilled (about 20 seconds). Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice and strain the drink into the glass. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprig.
Place 2 mint sprigs, 1 ounce lime juice, and 1 ounce simple syrup in a cocktail shaker and press gently against the mint with the back of a spoon to release the oils. (Simple syrup is just equal parts sugar and water boiled until sugar dissolves and then chilled in the refrigerator)
Add 2 ounces of rum and a handful of ice and shake vigorously until the mixture is well chilled (about 20 seconds). Fill a 10-ounce glass with ice and strain the drink into the glass. Top with club soda and garnish with mint sprig.
Society often forgives the criminal; it never forgives the dreamer~Oscar Wilde