Being chubby is okay when you’re naked in an Algonquin lake. Floating is for round people. So there, skinnies. We own this activity. Are there Olympic medals for floating?
A brief trip north was all I planned after a summer flood demanded extensive repairs to our home. We forgot about the mess for a while and moved one kid back to school, into a five bedroom
dive party pad I briefly considered taking up residence in as a squatter: just ignore me while I pretend I’m a McGill student again; then flew to Athens for a whirlwind trip with another daughter for her new postgraduate life as a public health intern. Less than 48 hours later, back in TO, Peter and I hunkered down in dark theatres for our annual adventure.
By mid-September, the body was screaming, the mind racing. Heart? A piece here, a piece there…will I ever get used to my babies being far-flung? Will I ever be able to read or listen to news again without heartbreak?
Water is a mysterious beast when it trickles down through the ductwork of an old house made new (made wonky, maybe). It misses some rooms, drenches others, buckles floorboards, and sends residents to bunk elsewhere for a time. When it envelops your limbs as you glide through a lake, it is nothing short of miraculous.
Yes, Dad I went to church this week.
Swimming in the buff is near the top of the best things in life list. Clearly, no one on that lake was around to soak up the strange late September glory of a freak autumn heat wave. I was alone. The lake was mine, Lucy, my spotter. The camper in me did feel a twinge; no buddy swim partners here. Lucy is a terrible water dog. She only pretends to like water, tiptoeing in slowly… then, always a speedy retreat, this is your thing, not mine. We both got our exercise: she ran back and forth from one end of the tiny island paradise to the other as I did my laps, shushing her as she squeaked her disapproval.
My body has been good to me. It is starting to whimper at the door and ask to be let in for some love, but it held up for babies to grow and did that thing of healing when I slipped a few thousand times. And so I returned the favour and eased into a quiet serene lake and divided the mirror water with my palms in swift rhythmic strokes. When I looked back, a long trail of bubbles is there etching the calm, showing my path; hardly a straight line. I laugh to myself; it ripples across the lake. So I swim funny. Curves R us.
Swim, read*, write. Repeat. Paddle the bay. Read the skies. They are full of messages. Listen to the wind opera (you’ve almost forgotten how).
Sleep is delicious here. I slept with the sun (sunsets are early now in autumn), and woke to loon calls and ducks squabbling; a perfect symphony at dawn. This unplugged living is not new for me; I seek it deliberately and am fortunate to find it here. Meditative, therapeutic, necessary: this is why I come.
Still, cinematic sparks resonate. I’m sketching storyboards in every daydream.
A dark water beast seizes my leg and ferries me down to a deep cave of strange sea creatures
A sudden storm tears the roof off of my cozy cabin and lake swells engulf the island. Together Lucy and I try to keep afloat in the lone canoe.
Drunken intruders dock and play havoc with Lucy to torment me, then threaten to toast her over a fire.