Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Returning and Going Away

This summer, it was back to the cottage we went—at the end of August this year, instead of mid-July.
There were changes, but mostly to us. Time works on the landscape more slowly than it does on humans. Rocks and lake and sky live so much longer. To see the changes time works upon them, we must slow down, approximate the pace of nature.

Humans change quickly. My boy is officially a tween now, and by the time we arrived at the cottage he’d had another year of summer camp under his belt. The camp’s out-trip to Georgian Bay and a canoe-camping weekend with his dad had produced a confident paddler excited to show me his new strength and his ability to sit in the stern and steer. He was no longer a passenger, but a driver.

I am a little bit older, too. And better at Sodoku.

There was a new family of ducks, the ducklings already almost as big as their parents, but that seems right at the end of the season.

They swam together but independently, wide spaces between, not clustered closely for safety and comfort.

The sun rose more southerly in late-August compared to high summer, as it daily shortened its arc across the northern hemisphere.

Each daybreak the sun dazzled me, producing an entirely new, never-to-be-seen-again dawn. It stretched out over rounded hills dark with the silhouettes of white pine and maple and birch, and then beamed at me from across the lake.

This year our visit was timed with August’s Blue Moon. 
Night did not fall but rose like a stage curtain as the moon ascended centrestage, fat and orange on the horizon, then growing whiter and smaller the higher it climbed...

...until, at dawn, it greeted the rising sun. 

The Morning Moon—pale and silent and lonely in the west. 

Our days in this quiet place rushed on as the sun and moon chased each other across the sky.

Our cottage time was coming to an end. As was summer.

I knew that soon we would be back to a city of hard surfaces, and back to school, back to routines. 

The canoe was beached, ready for the boathouse.

Days were hot but mornings were cool and the signs clear: dew clung to newly fallen leaves long after dawn,

and in the Technicolor day, sumachs were singed scarlet and burned against a sky that lied, singing to me of a summer everlasting. 

Before I knew what I was about, I stood in wonderment at my last lakeside sunrise of the summer. It was a gift, I knew, a parting gift. A promise. It said: I am here, I, the sky, the water, the rock and trees and the living mist, I am always here.

And the mist blew from the next cove, shape-shifting, advancing always, but never arriving.

Until finally it was consumed by brilliant blazing fire, the life-giving fire that warms all that’s upon the earth.

Every day that flaming ball rose, whether I slept in or rose with it, worshipped it or rushed on to make coffee, it rose in glory regardless of me. Here in the city, and there, too, the same sun rises.

Later, the car packed, all of our lovely visitors long gone, just me and the tween hovering between this magical place and the trip home, between summer and something else, there was time for one more throw of a toy airplane off the dock.
Will he play with toy planes next year? Probably. You’re never too old...to play...
 to wade into crystal clear waters and rescue a seaplane from an unfortunate landing...

to wonder at what lies below. 

Sometimes, when we look under the surface at just the right time into the just the right spot, we get a glimpse of the life submerged, revealed by a shaft of sun that reaches down and turns the depths into a gold dream.


I am home now. In the city. Sad to have left the cottage behind, but grateful to have been there. And I hold the hope that there will be time again to roast a marshmallow... 
 or maybe two...definitely two...

and to bask again under a fat full moon. A moon that made me wonder, does gravity pull that mysterious orb to us or by some magnetic magic does it pull us, do we gravitate to it? Something that rises in my chest at the sight of the moon tells me the latter is as true as the former. 

There are answers here, in witnessing and participating in the daily natural planetary rhythms. 

I will go back again and again. I must.


  1. Oh my goodness, anything I say now will sound trite; but here I go. This is really a perfect venue for your art: the words and images mutually evocative. I was there, too, and it brought me back to the moment(s). I felt the space, both fragile and strong. I know my place in it is temporary & I know that is true for everyone I love and sometimes I can be at peace with that . . .it is a gift when that happens. Thanks.

  2. Mmmm....I love you, Noa!! I'm so glad you were there again this year.

  3. "Time works on the landscape more slowly than it does on humans. Rocks and lake and sky live so much longer. To see the changes time works upon them, we must slow down, approximate the pace of nature."
    This is it, in a nutshell. A palm-worn, pocket-kept, memory-caressed, colour-flooded nutshell. You write so beautifully, so evocatively. Darn you. : ) Thank you for doing this, writing this, posting this. So private, so publicly.

    1. I love the "Darn you," part of your comment! Makes me chuckle. Thank you. So kind, you are.

  4. Lo Kathleen,
    I love the moon rising centerstage. I don't love that we did not make it there this year. But second best are seeing your pictures and reading your well-wielded words.
    Thank you

    1. Yes, it was a rather spectacular sight that moon. I hope I never forget it. Glad you stopped by here...if not there! Thanks for the kind words!

  5. Beautiful. These words and photos make me so nostalgic. I grew up spending my summers in this same region. Reading this I could almost feel the lake on my ankles, before plunging under. Thank you!

    1. You are so welcome. Oh, the lake water. Once you've been in it, it's in you, wherever you go.