Wednesday, October 06, 2010

It was very difficult to post anything this summer, as we were at the cottage and had no internet. So here is an installment of "What I did for my summer holidays", which was essentially spending three months at the cottage, eating, drinking and swimming. It was, well, simply wonderful.

IdleWilde Cottage
Thurs. 29 July 2010

Well it's been three weeks since we fled the desert, and we are enjoying our life here in the bush. The weather has been hot and humid over Southern and Central Ontario, but here in the North it has been lovely. Even when it is hot the breeze from the lake keeps us comfortable and evenings are mild and calm. The sandflies were pretty annoying when we first arrived but they are gone now. Just a few deerflies during the day and the mosquitoes on the beach at night.

We have been swimming every day just to keep clean, as we have no hot water unless we heat it on the stove. The lake isn't either warm or cold: a bit bracing when you get in, but lovely to swim in after the intial shock has passed. And it is such a treat to swim in fresh water! No salty taste, no need to rinse or even to dry off when you come ashore.

Just to give you a better picture of the place the cottage is a long wooden structure among the white and red pines, nestled among blueberry and lilac bushes, and perched over a wide sandy beach. Sitting in a small cove, we look out over Rice Bay, about 3/4mile across. The rest of Talon Lake is out of sight behind high, rolling hills. The entire lake is a few miles long, divided into various bays and inlets. The shoreline has a scattering of cottages, clustered in small groups, but 80% of the shoreline and all the surrounding hills are covered in a mixed forest of pine, spruce, fir, birch, maple and aspen. All undeveloped land belongs to the Crown and is part of a Provincial park, and is to remain wild and natural. Even logging is banned within view of the lake. We are very lucky to have such a spot, and only 40 minutes from downtown North Bay.

The wildlife here keeps us entertained, with the loons calling on the lake at night, and a small flock of Canada geese and a family of merganser ducks skirting the shore by day. A pair of phoebes had a nest on the windowledge in the sunroom, but have abandoned it since the chicks have learned to fly. So now we have one adult phoebe and three chicks flying among the pines in the front yard. A mink comes by every few days, hunting among the rocks along the shore, and there is a large beaver lodge across the cove, with frequent evening traffic as they patrol the shore looking for another tree to chew down. A recent trip through the Dead River gave us the chance to watch a young moose feeding on brush by the water's edge.

This is a typical Canadian breakfast: potatoes, eggs and peameal bacon. It also came with Lorena's fresh-baked multigrain bread. Yumm!!!

Our days are filled fixing up the cottage and accumulating boats. Our friends Brian and Tanya down the lake have loaned us an old Mercury outboard for our little skiff, but we haven't been able to get it running. We also borrowed a small sailboat from them, and my nephew Ted has been learning to sail. Some other friends on the lake, the Guys, have also loaned us their aluminum skiff with a 25 hp Johnson, which they haven't used in a couple of years. We had some fuel-line problems with it, but we have it licked now. The boat will be very handy for visiting our friends down the lake, and for getting our drinking water at the spring across the lake. We also have a canoe to paddle around. Ted, my sister's son, has been doing some fishing from the canoe, and so we have had the occasional lunch of pan-fried pike. And of course we have been socialising with neighbours and friends from town.

My brother Alex's youngest two boys, Max and Sam, proudly hold up a pike. We ate it for lunch the next day.

Katie is working this summer in North Bay, but has been coming out for her days off. She usually gets a friend to bring her out. Kate has been busy doing some commissioned paintings as well.

My oldest friend Bill loaned us his car for a few days which was a huge help, but most of the time we are stranded out here. So whenever anyone calls to say they are coming to visit we give them a shopping list.

The sunroom off the kitchen has excellent lighting for painting. Kate's cousin Elysia is volunteering to help drink the beer and keep her company.

We have had a couple of cool nights, so we have to think about getting in some firewood. We cut down a big dead elm tree, so it should keep us warm for a while. The chain saw ran out of chain oil before I finished, and my brother Alex sent out the diesel motor oil for his tractor instead of the chain oil. When I called to let him know, his wife, Page, asked him diplomatically if he happened to change the oil on the tractor lately. Fortunately the answer was negative.

Went to bed last night to the gentle tapping of rain on the roof. This morning it is still raining softly. The birds are chirping and squawking in the pines outside the window. Lorena is mixing flour to bake bread. She bakes most days, so we always have fresh bread. Every day it is something different, from buns to foccaccia to cinnamon buns to regular bread, in whole wheat, rye and other mixed grains.

It feels good to be living here. It is so peaceful and lovely, one of the wonders of the world. When you consider how crowded the planet is, and how so many live in squalor or at least in conditions that never let them be away from people, machines, buildings etc. Here there is not even the sight of power lines. The occasional boat on the water or plane high overhead, a scattering of cottages along the shore are the only signs of human intrusion. The rest is wild and beautiful and free. We eat fresh food, swim when we are hot or need a bath, drink water from a spring. We have the company of each other, and of friends and family members. What more could we want or need? More soon......