Monday, September 5, 2016

A last look at the cottage

Well, not only am I back in the city, but all the cottage laundry is done, and all the cottage pantry leftovers are neatly tucked away in the kitchen (a marked improvement over last year, when the kitchen table and floor were littered with random bags of cereal and cracker boxes and other nonsense until well after Christmas).  So: it's official.  Summer is over for this knitter.  Want to join me in a last, longing look at the pretty?

I never seem to take pictures of the cottage itself, probably because it's imprinted on my mind from childhood visits there and therefore, there is no need to reinforce its image in my mind in February.  Also it's a pretty boring colour. 

The stroll to the lake from the deck on the other hand? That's hard to resist. 

The look of the path has varied slightly over the decades, as saplings grow up and big trees fall down, but it's always lovely.  And the scent in the air - a combination of cedars and hemlocks and earth and water that is the most amazing, distinctive, tangible part of the experience there - is incredible.  I wish there was a camera that could preserve that so I could share it with you. 

The day before we left was as close to perfection as we got all summer, and more than good enough for me.

The sky was stunning,

The water completely clear and also, still,

(a treat that occurs for a few minutes at some point most days, when the wind drops and the other cottagers take a break from tubing and waterskiing)

and the temperature just right, both for the air and for the water.

I often felt like a glutton this summer, wading out over the rocky bottom of the lake into deeper waters as often per day as I could manage, trying to cram as much swimming as possible into the time we had, as if the accumulated experience would keep all winter.  It probably won't, but it was fun trying.

Fun story, part one:

On that particular perfect day, I decided to do something I am afraid to do in early July - I went down to the dock in the late afternoon with a pen and a pad of paper and took notes for the novel I've been working on in my head for a month or three.  I probably spent thirty minutes enjoying the scenery and writing down every word I could think of that describes the way the water looked and sounded.  It was wonderful.  And then I came back up the slope and the stairs and went inside and took off the linen shirt I'd thrown over my tee in case I attracted some aging mosquito or blackfly and - both my arms were COVERED in tiny bites.

I've been scratching ever since, and I still don't know what got me, though I suspect a member of this spider's family.

I've magnified this picture massively, but in spite of its creepiness I'm so glad I took it because it was amazing how it hid from me on the side of a tiny segment of cedar greens.  Once I got to see it on my computer screen I noticed an opened egg sac nearby and another two spiders hiding even more effectively than this guy did.  I only noticed this one because it was swinging on a strand of soon-to-be-web as I passed, and it's so white I couldn't help noticing a blob shifting in the air as I ducked under the cedars that frame the dock entrance; when I turned to look it was scrambling into this position on the tree just to the left of the dock.

The night before, and for two nights before that, the sky was cloudless and moonless and the Milky Way hung bright and twinkling over the lake.  We sat out on the dock and watched for a long time, making wishes on all the shooting stars that crossed dark patches on their way down.  I don't remember ever seeing the Milky Way so clearly, and of course with all the ambient light these days, it's hard to see more than a few stars even in a small town. 

Seeing all of that was even better than the night in July when I stood at the living room window at midnight and watched the moon cast an eerie glow over the trees and stumps and open pathway for the short time it shone through the gap in the foliage.

We had so many lovely days at the cottage this summer I didn't think we could top them, but this last visit, even though we were putting away more and more things every day, was the best of all.  On top of the Milky Way, I noticed things I'd never seen before, like this lichen growing on a rock near the kitchen door:

and SO many mushrooms!  I walked around at one point, taking pictures of every one I saw, tracing their path along whatever root was feeding them all, and was amazed by the sizes and varieties and utter lack of attractiveness.  I am going to spare you those pictures, even though I did show you the hiding spider one, so that's how bad they were.

Fun story, part two:

As we were preparing to leave on the last day I was tidying away my notepad and put my double-sided sheet of story notes somewhere safe.  But when we got home, I couldn't find it.  I looked for two days, going through all the bags of laundry and all the carrybags of pantry things, and dumping out my purse and my duffel bag and anything else I could think of.  No luck.  Finally I sat down and typed up everything I remembered, hoping I got most of it, figuring I could always get Pete to look for it at the cottage when he goes back to turn off the water.

Then, yesterday afternoon, I looked into the knitting bag I've been working from lately and guess what?  THAT was the safe place.  I should have guessed because knitting is always a safety net isn't it.

I don't know about you, but I need one last look at Hastings County:

That sky... I never get tired of how huge and amazing it is up there.  Or how delicious the pulled pork sandwiches are at Crazy Al's Barbeque, where we stopped for supper after shutting everything up for the season.

*happy sigh*

Okay, that's enough from me today.  Tomorrow we need to talk knitting... the air changed a little after we got back and I have started to feel that old tug on my knitting fingers, for fresh handknit hats and scarves.  I am pretty sure you know what I mean!


Barb said...

What a lovely post - I felt right there with you at the lake, minus the spider bites... End of summer - how did that happen so quickly?

Mary Keenan said...

Yes, minus the spider bites would be ideal ;^) I hate to see the summer go but autumn is a very nice consolation prize - if you can't be in the lake, at least you get to wear wool, and the leaves are so pretty!