Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Saturday 7/21 0700

Last morning here.

Last night we rode the launch out past the old lighthouse and into the bay to watch the sun set. It was after nine o’clock. We watched the big orange ball slip beneath the horizon and disappear into the water.

Now, here it is, yellow and new, arcing up over Burnt Island, strong and proud. Ready for a new day.

It is depressing to think that we must leave today. It has been so heavenly here. And yesterday was a glorious last day.

The morning was windy and brisk, yet sunny. It called for long pants and a sweatshirt. After lunch we were able to sit out in the sun. We set up chairs behind the main cabin, to block the wind, and atop giant rocks, so the sun’s heat radiated off. By three, we decided to walk to the far end of the island and go swimming as the water is warmer there.

It was still chilly, and the sun kept darting behind clouds and then back out. Cold. Warm. Cold. Warm. Cold. Warm.

B and I went for a wonderful kayak trip around Electric Island, towards the bay, and then around. The wind had picked up again some by then, but it wasn’t too hard to paddle.

Back into long pants and a sweatshirt. Cocktails and hors d’ouevres. Reading. Then hamburgers on the grill, fresh corn on the cob, pasta salad, and a syrah from one of the Canadian wineries. We still had to wait a bit to take the boat out to watch the sunset. Days are long here in Canadian summer. But way too short at the same time.

I read a lot this week: newspapers, magazines, and books. Four books total. And half of another.

The water is lapping gently against the neighbors’ dock, a duck is quacking, the whine of a motorboat fading into the distance.

A loon.

We have seen several loons swimming by the cabin and diving below the surface. Every time he sees one do this, B says, “There must be fish in our water.”

The Marleys stopped by yesterday on their way back from grocery shopping. They dropped off a Sears catalog. It was nice to meet them both. We had heard so much about them from B. We went out to meet them on the dock. B asked them up for a drink, but they demurred. Mrs. Marley said she needed a nap, and to got to the bathroom. B finally convinced them to come see the new addition to the cabin, the link between the main cabin and the sleeping cabin. But they didn’t stay for a drink. Another time, they promised.

The sun feels so warm against my face. I can’t believe that tomorrow morning I will not be sitting in this same red and wicker rocking chair, writing in this notebook, relaxed, embracing yet another glorious day on Georgian Bay.

Monday, August 06, 2007

More Yoctangee

Thursday 7/19

OK, the praying canoeists are coming by, right in front of me. I can’t tell what they are saying, but I can catch an occasional “Christ” and “Lord.” Hell, now a metal launch is coming to the dock across the way. It looks like they are dropping stuff off. No, actually it looks like a cleaning lady with a mop and bucket and supplies has gotten off the boat. A man guided the launch in to the dock, and a teen boy carried off a great tote (perhaps more cleaning supplies?). Now the man and the teen are leaving again.

It is 7:30 am.

The first two nights we were here, when I would periodically wake up during the night, I heard nothing: complete and absolute silence. Last night I woke up and heard a persistent lapping noise. Waves were lapping up against the rocks below me and the dock across the way. Surely, I would have heard this before. Wouldn’t I?

When I got up this morning, the water was no longer calm and still. There is a light breeze moving across the water causing ripples and small waves. B said this was how it normally was around here, that the calm, still waters were unusual.

It is another gorgeous day. Sunny. Blue skies in one direction, a few white clouds in the other. Although the Toronto paper yesterday said we were supposed to get thunderstorms later this afternoon.

Yesterday was odd. It started out OK at first and then clouded over. And then a fog moved in. You could actually see the mist curling around us. And you couldn’t see any of the islands across the channel. Later in the day the mist moved on, and it was quite sunny and nice for a while. S and I kayaked around the islands while B was off playing tennis at the Ojibway Club.

I found a copy of Harry Symons’s Ojibway Melody on a bookshelf in the living room. It was inscribed to the “new owners of Yoctangee” – B’s grandparents. I read the chapter on Yoctangee first and then some of the parts on the summer cottages, the Ojibway Hotel, advanced parties, fishing, and the annual regatta. It was interesting for a while and somewhat amusing, but eventually it got kind of boring. Or more of the same. There were some parts I really liked, though, as Symons described island life the way it was in the early to mid 1900s.

We had a fabulous dinner last night. Maybe kayaking, sun, and fresh air build up your appetite. Grilled t-bone steaks, fresh corn on the cob, roasted red potatoes with rosemary and olive oil, a sliced baguette, and red wine (one of the bottles we got at a winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake). Later, some locally made strawberry ice cream.

When the weather was misty earlier, we rode out to the old lighthouse, where the “pie lady” takes orders. Only she wasn’t there. The homemade sign said, “Lighthouse hours: Thurs – Mon 9-5; Tues, Wed – closed.” The lighthouse, which is right near the point where the original barrel (hence, the name “Pointe au Baril”) was displayed, indicating sage passage into the bay, is no longer used. It is now a historical landmark. The pie lady used to live in the lighthouse when she was married to the lighthouse keeper. Before that, as a young girl, she worked in the laundry room at the Ojibway Hotel. She and the lighthouse keeper had six children, four boys and two girls, and they all lived inside the lighthouse, which was actually rather small. Now the pie lady, a widow and grandmother multiple times over, has moved back (at least some of the days of the week) and sells homemade pies to the islanders.

Friday, 7/20 0730

Glorious morning!

Sun is shining over Burnt Island, creating a patch of glistening silver gold between that island and where I sit on my screened in porch. Blue sky. Brisk wind. Waves upon the water. It is chilly this morning, but beautiful. O! Canada!

Last full day here. I am trying not to dwell on it, as it seizes me with sadness and the thought I must return to the real world tomorrow. Instead, I am going to enjoy each and every moment of this wonderful day!

I am sitting here on the screened in porch of “my” cabin, wearing a fleece jacket and sipping a mug of coffee. Listening to the wind and the lapping of the water against the rocks and the neighbors’ docks. The water looks darker than usual, a dark blue green gray.

While yesterday started off clear enough, it soon clouded over. Then we heard thunder in the distance and a heavy darkness formed to the west. We closed all the windows and moved furniture and cushions out of the way. Leaning out the eastern porch door we saw swirling bluish purple clouds out towards the bay. At first it seemed as if the storm might go around us. But then we saw lightning, and the rains came. This was at around 11 in the morning, which seemed an unusual time for a summer thunderstorm.

The rains unleashed in torrents, the winds made white caps upon the water. Lightning, thunder. The lights shuddered a few times. The screened in porch and furniture were soaked, of course. We watched the storm from the warm, dry safety of the living room. It must have rained for a good two hours. The temperature cooled off, and we huddled in jeans and sweatshirts, reading books in the living room.

I read a whole book from cover to cover yesterday.

B had gone over to the other side of the island before the storm, so it had been just S and Sadie and me in the main cabin. Sadie seemed completely unfazed by the storm. And the snake.

Right before the storm started, we spotted a three foot long snake by the blueberry patch off the western side of the porch. It looked like a rattle snake with its brown diamond-shaped pattern, but it had no rattle. We guessed it to be a fox snake, which is common – and harmless – around here. It slithered off into the brush, a harbinger of the oncoming storm.

After the storm, at around two or so, B came back for lunch. Hot tomato soup and grilled cheese sandwiches with aged Canadian cheddar never tasted so good! The sun came out again, and S and I decided to hike to the other side of the island to sit on a big rock in the sun and read. It wasn’t warm enough to swim, but we wanted to warm up on a rock in the sun.

We had found this rock earlier in the day, before the storm, when we had gone on a hike exploring the island with B. There were several trails criss-crossing the island. One led to B’s cabin, the others took us to other points around the island. We passed the old outhouse and the falling down structure where a generator had been. Now there was a Hydropower box closer to the cabin. And indoor plumbing.

We found bear scat along the trail on the far side of the island, which was a bit alarming. We also kept seeing overturned rocks. We had seen some rocks like this close around the main cabin, too. I had supposed the loose rocks might be from all the freezing and thawing of a long Canadian winter. B had thought humans had done it, perhaps one of the workmen who had built the connector between the main cabin and the one sleeping cabin. When we saw rocks dislodged and overturned all across the island, though, it dawned on me that maybe the bear had done this, looking for grubs or bugs. That made sense, but it was also disconcerting as some of the rocks were rather large. That must be one strong bear!

Although we haven’t seen the bear since its swim over to Burnt Island, I keep expecting to see it in all the places we had seen it before. Now that we suspect it was the bear that overturned all those rocks and some of those rocks are right around the back of the cabin, I keep expecting to see the bear there every time I go from the main cabin to my sleeping cabin and back. It is probably an irrational fear. B thinks the bear has moved on. But I don’t think a modicum of caution is unwarranted.

The storm seems to have damaged the boat house and the docks on Yoctangee. A flap of aluminum siding is loose on the front of the boat house and keeps thundering in the wind. And it looks like the stay that chained the front of the boat house to a cement mooring at the bottom of the lake has come loose. Now the boat house and the attached docks float around some in the water, and the back of the boat house keeps smashing into the rocks on shore, splintering the wood. Parts of the dock itself have cracked and splintered as well. The boats all seem fine. B put the larger boat inside the boat house before the storm and took the kayaks out of the water. The boat house mooring definitely needs to be reattached or fixed. B called Frank Penfold, a local contractor who builds and fixes just about everything on the islands, and I see him arriving now with a small crew of men on his telltale metal launch.

I guess I should go take a shower – which will be rather bracing in the wind as it is an outdoor shower – and get dressed. This is definitely a long pants day, and B said if I’m not warm enough there are some wool Pendleton shirts in a cupboard. Who knows, it may warm up a lot later in the day. The weather here seems to change a lot. And quickly. And we keep dressing and undressing and dressing again as the temperatures change, the winds change, and the rain and the clouds and the sun come and go.

The dregs of my coffee are cold in their cup. I must go get a hot refill!