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Sunday, 4 August 2013

August Cottage Country Diary



August 4 2013

It is so great to get out of the city to cottage country! It is a great Canadian tradition. We didn't get far from the city in July. Out here it's sunny with cloudy periods and gets cool, the low 20's C, 5-10 at night. However the sky, water, and foliage are fresh and crisp. Everything feels very northern and Janet and I are quite pleased to get away.

We thought we'd avoid the mad traffic rush out of the city, so we left mid Saturday morning. Not much help. It was bumper to bumper eastbound on Highway 401 all the way out of the city. We stopped a few times for coffee or just to stretch our legs after that along the way.

A reader, Margaret W recognized me at the roadside "On Route" gas and restaurant bar. It happens increasingly that I bump into my readers and is quite pleasant and fun. She was working on the NDP campaign in Windsor Tecumseh and filled me in. The teachers who helped certainly have cause to celebrateBTW I had been invited to a REWT get together to celebrate the NDP win in London West, but regretfully it was on Friday night when we were packing to go away. Anyway, hello Margaret! Congratulations to our teacher colleagues down that way who helped push Percy Hatfield over the top and get out the vote! Also the rest of you across the province.


We arrived at the Land o' the Lakes in South Eastern Ontario early in the afternoon. It is beautiful. God's country. The air and water is clean, very clean. The rippled water in the lake outside the cottage sun porch windows is royal blue. The lake is lined with tall mixed forest; fir, and deciduous, big scrawling or pointed trees that are a lush dark green. The sky is a vibrant light blue with huge wispy cumulus clouds. Dark ominous dark bottom sides, portending rain. It has rained a lot up here, only a few short showers since we arrived. Finally it cleared up mid afternoon.

For the rest of the day we drove about with our host friends, Barb + Pat in their golf cart visiting the other cottages and trailers. Janet and the ladies went to the lodge for karaoke night, not really my thing. I enjoyed a quiet chance to read a bit. Then walk out on the boat dock in the pitch dark starring up at the milky way. All the twinkly stars. A virtual milky blanket of them stretching across the pitch black sky. No city light pollution here to blank out the stars. It was quite marvellous and moving. Then I went to karaoke to be social. A very Canadian crowd of good time campers having a fun laugh. Folks brought their own bottle, and were talking, laughing, very down home, no pretencions. Singing along and clapping to the music. Just say hi and everybody says hi back too. Gotta love it!


After breakfast this morning we back behind the cottage to a sandy cove beach. The open lake is too cool to really enjoy a swim. I sat in a high back wooden Muskoka chair just staring out at the water and trees. It started to spit so I took the plunge rather than miss out on a swim. My first this summer! I swam out to the raft. The rain stopped. I lay out there in the sun awhile resting. It was very tranquil, just the sound of the lapping water, the feel of the slow drift of the raft atop the water. I swam back to shore when it clouded over again. Taking long deep dives down into the deep, doing the crawl along the lake bottom awhile before I'd burst back up to the surface. Float on my back looking up at the sky. Then some good long strokes back to shore.

I joined everyone on the beach chairs. The sun soon came back out and eventually the sky cleared. I lay in the warmth of the sun, even drifted off a bit for a snooze. Read my book. Sat and talked before I returned to the cottage for a nice leisurely nap.

We had steak for dinner. It's sunset. I think I will go back out on the dock.

Hope everyone is else is having a great long weekend too!


 August 6 2013

Back in Toronto again. It would've been fabulous to stay longer, but Janet had to return for work. No problem. We are off again for more travels later this month, to London + Paris for our anniversary. Next month is Cuba, now that I am retired. I will visit the schools and do some Cuban School Project work and teach rather than return to classes here after Labour Day anymore. Works for me!

Sunday night was very cool, nay downright cold, as the temperature dropped to 5 degrees Celsius [C]. We had a nice BBQ on the back porch: steaks with plenty of fresh corn on the cob. Seems all the corn these days is sweet corn, which I like, but didn't there use to be lots of different types? Besides cow corn? It's like apples. Over the course of the season one might see 6 different types in the supermarket, but if I remember correctly we used to have our choice of at least a dozen or more, especially if one went for a drive in the country.

After dinner I wrote and posted my blog, rather anti-social I know. However after sunset it got too cold to sit outside, so we all went into the cottage, made popcorn and drinks. None of us are big drinkers any more, not me at all. Blech! Nope. I don't like it. We chatted and laughed until close to midnight. Janet's girlfriends Barb and Pat had a few space heaters in their cottage. We threw on an extra blanket and enjoyed a good nights sleep. It was dead quiet being out in the country in the pitch dark. Very tranquil.

After a leisurely breakfast, we packed the car. Sigh! Alas! Barb drove us all down to the beach in her golf cart. The sun was out, it was Simcoe Day, there was nary a cloud in the sky. We sat in the Muskoka chairs on the sand laughing it up. I lay on a blanket to tan my back for a  bit. I've finally gotten a tan. Rather late in the summer for me. It's uneven though, and not the golden brown kind we usually get every summer holidaying in the Caribbean.

I noticed that I have a barbecue potato chip red tan. I don't burn. Still it is quite noticeable. I'm pretty sure it must be from the thin ozone layer here up north. I don't remember it as kid, but then I didn't use to fly south every summer. It is quite worrisome what's happening to the environment.

I swam out to the raft again. The water was quite cool, but very refreshing and clean. The lake is apparently one of the cleanest in Southern Ontario. I remember lots of lake and river swims when I was a kid but now most of the sites are polluted. Have been for awhile. I drove about visiting them all again one summer in the nineties. You could count the number that were still okay on the fingers of one hand with a few to spare. I don't suppose the situation has gotten any better since. Whether it's pesticides, acid rain or sewage I don't know but it's criminal that's for sure.

It was hot and sunny out on the dock, where I tanned a bit more but was getting bitten by flies. Not, mosquitos, big black flies or anything like that. They looked like regular flies and there sure were a lot. Don't know what that was all about; the wonderful world of nature? I soon swam back to shore. Early afternoon we drove off among much goodbyes back to Toronto.

For awhile we drove along Highway 7 stopping at the local produce stands. We got some wonderful wild blueberries, quite pricey but well worth it. Huge cobs of fresh corn. Homemade jams and soon and so forth. Later we turned south and connected with the 401 east of Oshawa. It was bumper to bumper traffic for a while. The traffic ripple effect I think because we eventually started to speed up again. We didn't see any signs of an accident or an off ramp that might've gotten blocked up or whatever. Go figure. From there it was smooth driving across the top of the city to back home in the west end.

It has been a very cool summer on the whole, intermittent monsoon winds, rains and the short blistering heat wave notwithstanding. Still there's a northern beauty to it that I always have quite enjoyed, since being a little boy, outside in the wide open countryside with the forests, lakes, the very laid back ambiance et. al. We haven't always had the record hot summers we've experienced over the past decade or so.

Janet and I were thinking we should buy a cheap trailer lot by a lake. I could spend summers there and Janet could travel back and forth to work on the weekends, holidays and so on until she retires too. On the other hand it might be nicer to have one in Florida and spend winters down there as snowbirds. Dunno. I'm retired now. Our home and cars are paid off and I don't want to incur any debts, but between the two of us we could get something for maybe $25,000 to 50,000. It's worth pondering ....

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