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idyll in Muskoka

Annie and I, here for our annual pilgrimage to Ruth’s beautiful old cottage in Muskoka. My only time outside the city this summer, so I must cram in as much peace and sweet piney air and lake and loons as possible. Not to mention the company of two marvellous women, magazines, books, high-speed internet, and Netflix. My cup runneth etc.

But this could have been different. I thought I was organized for the trek, but the night before we left, I was awakened at 5 a.m. by loud voices outside my window. Finally getting out of bed to check on who these very rude men were, I saw they were creating the contra-bicycle path that has long been planned for my street. They were measuring, drawing lines on the road, and shouting to each other at 5 a.m. It took me a long time to fall asleep, so was rushed in the morning. Brought two small bags down from my bedroom, intending to go back for the third.

But forgot to. Rushing around, getting stuff loaded before the rain, taking off, forgot the third bag. Discovered en route, when we stopped to buy corn and I looked for my rain jacket, that I’d forgotten that, and my bathing towels, and my shoes. And my shoes – sneakers, for walking in the rain, and rubber beach shoes. I had only the light sandals on my feet. Could have made it an uncomfortable weekend with much rain predicted and a wet island covered with wet rocks.

BUT blessedly, I am in the land of big-footed women. I wear a rare size, 10 1/2. So, it turns out, does Ruth. Miracle! And Annie takes size 11. She lent me a spare pair of flip flops, and Ruth, sneakers and slippers, and a poncho. Saved.

So, a weekend of pleasure, with the right shoes. We brought lots of food with us and all contribute to the menu, cooking, cleaning. Yesterday was rainy but today, glorious. Annie and I kayaked and swam, we’ll go for a walk around the island, we’ll read and jabber incessantly. Last night we started watching The Playlist, a Swedish series about the birth of Spotify, which we weren’t sure about but which was interesting. It’s hard to find something one of us hasn’t already seen. Tonight, maybe Once Were Brothers or The Last Waltz, about the Band and Big Pink, in honour of our beautiful Robbie Robertson. I’ve seen both a number of times but am up for one more time. The best music.

But right now, the slapping of waves as a few boats go by, the whirring of hummingbird wings at Ruth’s busy feeder – they’re surprisingly noisy for such tiny creatures – the chipping of birds and chipmunks. Healing, balm for the soul.

At one point, we were all sitting by the water when a question came up about an obscure word – “prelate.” We knew it was something Catholic but were joking about “grilled prelates on toast” and “have some crunchy prelates with your beer.” Ruth asked Siri what it meant. Another miracle – sitting by a lake in the middle of a forest, and a voice beams in to Ruth’s phone from the skies with pertinent information about a Catholic functionary.

The news, thank God, feels very far away. For now. Bandit has a wound, Sam has a wound, Anna has just landed in Nova Scotia where the boys are already with Holly, Robin is keeping my house, garden, and cat going, and I am here in paradise for two more days. Rain tomorrow, so I’ll be able to read more Sense and Sensibility. Once before, here, I read Middlemarch. Nowhere better to absorb the genius of English women prose writers than on a Muskoka island.

Cheers. Happy August to you.

Below: morning view, our lovely hostess at lunchtime, evening view. Annie and I kayak, while Rhoda, Ruth’s son’s lab, keeps us company. Oh yes – as I was about to get out of the kayak at the end of our paddle – Annie out before me, on the dock – she pointed out a big black spider on the side of my kayak, near my leg. AAAAAGH! I leapt up and grabbed her to pull me out of the kayak and nearly upended us both. If I’d seen it while we were on the water – yikes.

O Canada.

(On another note, the proofs just arrived of an essay I have coming out in Queen’s Quarterly this fall. It’s gorgeous once more. The magazine did a spectacular job with Correspondence, posted here under Articles – take a look to see the quality of their work. I look forward to sharing this new piece with you. After a bit more proofing.)




2 Responses to “idyll in Muskoka”

  1. Beth Kaplan says:

    What I’m most grateful for is not the cottage, the lake, the trees, but the friendship of these two curious, connected, intelligent women. A great gift.

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About Beth

I began keeping a journal at the age of nine. Nearly fifty years later, I started this online journal, sharing reflections, reviews, updates, and the occasional secret.

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Chris Walks
This blog evolves. It once was about travels. Now it’s a reason to be at the keyboard that I value.

Theresa Kishkan
Theresa Kishkan is a writer living on the Sechelt Peninsula on the west coast of Canada.

I walk on. With my feet, and in my mind as well.

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Wherever you’ve come from, wherever you’re going, consider this space a place for reflection and pause.


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