Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy Canada D'eh!

I have spent Canada Day over the years in many different places but none better than up at the lake in Ontario on our family island.  Two and a half acres of wooded bliss.  My Dad built a 10 x 12 cabin to house the seven of us in the early years.  I was two years old when I first went there and many moons later, it is still one of my favourite places on earth.

The potable water (Anstruther Lake tea is still the best), the loons calling in the early morning through the mist, no electricity or running water, and hundreds of campfires over which we cooked our meals and sang at the top of our lungs, often collapsing in laughter at my Dad’s falsetto, or our own made-up words to well-known classics.  And yes, accompanied by the twang and giggles of fledgling ukulele players.  (My dog has fleas!!)

I remember being fascinated by the moon and making sure that my sisters and I slept outdoors when there was a full moon – in our bathing suits – to see if we would get moon tans. The boys on the lake enjoyed buzzing the island with their motorboats, knowing full well we would be thrilled by their attentions as we scampered about in our bikinis.

Aaah… so many delicious memories – the annual mile-long swim (since named after my Dad), learning how to water ski and wind surf, picking enough wild blueberries for Mom to make us her superb home-made pies, huddling in the tent during magnificent thunderstorms, sliding down the moss-laden waterfalls at the nearby portage, cliff diving, fishing for bass, canoeing and learning how to gunwhale bob… oh! and the first time I was allowed to take the boat without an adult over to the landing (I think I grew a foot that day).  After that, any excuse to do “errands” for Dad, I was at the ready!

As we all grew, so did the need for a larger cabin.  We set to building the current main cabin (20 x 40).  I was the chief electrician as we decided to bring hydro onto the island.  Dad painstakingly taught me how to run wire, drill the holes in the 2 x 4s and hook up the outlets and switches.  I think I was about 12 or 13. To this day, it doesn’t phase me (pun intended) to try and fix malfunctioning circuitry. (I can even do a three-way switch!)

I learned so much on those summer weekends.  I loved Dad teaching me how to do things that I didn’t know I would enjoy learning!  I just loved being with him because he was so passionate about his little corner of Canada.  It was and is quintessentially Canadian.  I love it there.

When both my boys were born, I made it a priority to spend some time there with each of them so they would hopefully get imbued with my love of the place. They were so tiny, I could heat up water on the Coleman stove and pour it into the cooler for their bath. I’d sit on the dock in perfect silence (except for the odd mosquito!) and sing to them. It was the perfect place to bond with my wee boys. To this day, Sean is deeply connected to it, and were Duncan still with us, I know he would be too. I am hoping to take some of his ashes there this year… that’s been a long time coming but it feels just right.

Thank you Dad for holding your vision so brightly to own a piece of Canada that is indelibly printed on my heart.  Thank you Mom for being there, every weekend, feeding not just us, but all our friends that you so generously included on the grocery list and in your heart. Thank you to my siblings for the roles you played in my cottage life. I can’t stop smiling when I think about us all up at the lake … you know what I’m talking about.

And the tradition carries on!  Now my nephews and nieces spend their weekends there and right now, I know they are celebrating Canada Day as the photo shows… standing at the end of the dock, with sparklers, saluting the place that is in our hearts. Thanks to my nephew, Riley Found, for this fabulous picture.  (And by the way, the boat in the photo, is the one I took my maiden voyage in, all those years ago…)

I love my country and the people and places that I am fortunate enough to have in my life.

Happy Canada Day.

Branded by wholesome cottage life,

Patriotically yours,

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