Archive for September, 2010

We make our first visit of the year to the lake in spring. There’s always a thrill to getting back to the lake after the long winter’s absence, and we smell the lake before we see it. Before the gravel road deposits us in the lodge parking lot, we are sniffing the wonderful watery smell, and reveling in the scent of green growing things. The children race from the car to the water’s edge, testing the frigid water. The lake is awakening from the long winter’s dormancy, and in the forest which marches down to the shore, the returning songbirds are everywhere.

In midsummer, our holiday at the lodge centres upon the lake. We spend long hours either in it or on it.  A quiet paddle to the creek at the head of the lake may reward the adventuresome with a glimpse of the moose family. Coming back down the lake, gently floating in the canoe, quietly listening to the far-off cries of swimmers at the dock, we are peace with the lake. Suddenly a loon pops up beside the canoe: it’s a perfect Canadian moment

Early morning at the lodge

A favourite time to savour the lake is after supper, watching the sun set as we drink coffee on the porch. Canoes slip silently along the shore, as the vacationers take the evening air.

There’s a thrilling show over the lake every August. To witness the Perseid meteor shower with the children, we dress up in warm clothes, and go down to lie on the dock. We marvel at the Milky Way reflected in the midnight lake. Bundled up in blankets against the chilly August night, we see the shooting stars, and hear the call of the loon….the children never forget this moment. Later, there is loon laughter in the dark as we lie in bed, sensing that exciting combination of the unknown north just beyond our cozy bedroom wall.

A return visit to the lake in fall rewards us with a show of colour. Our lake is surrounded with blazing hardwood trees during the height of the autumn season. During the day, we drift quietly in the canoe. The loons have migrated now, and the lake is silent in the golden October light.

"The lake is smoking"

As darkness falls, the lake throws off clouds of steam in the autumn dusk. The cook comes down the path, heading for the kitchen: “The lake is smoking,” he observes, and so it is. The lake is getting ready for winter. Soon no human voice will be heard across its frozen expanse. Later, in the city, we sleep and dream of the lake in summer, of canoes and loons, and of swimming freely in the dark brown water.

©2010 spikeymom@gmail.com

Photos courtesy of Beach Command Post, ©2010

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The Passage

The Passage

Author: Cronin, Justin
Publisher: Doubleday Canada
Copyright: 2010
Personal ranking: 7/10

This expensive ($32.95) and hefty (766 pp) book has been dogging my footsteps all summer. I bought it at the beginning of July. Saved it for a “vacation read.” Big mistake. Should have started it right away. This is one of those lengthy reads where you get enmeshed in the book and read avidly for a couple of days, and then put it down for a rest….a long, long rest. It’s about 100 pages longer than Wolf Hall but doesn’t come close in terms of engaging the reader for long periods. No “savouring” here.

How to describe it? It’s an almost indescribable story!  It’s a post-apocalypse story (a genre I have usually enjoyed) but in this story, the event was not a nuclear war, it was a virus that got loose from a lab, that went around the world, and that turned ordinary people into vampires that killed everything in their path to get blood. The whole world has been utterly depopulated as a result. However, there are pockets of survivors, and their story is what is told in this work of fiction. Now, normally I am no fan of vampire stories, and the current fashion for vampire books and movies does not appeal to me at all. But there would be no romancing by vampires of sweet young girls in this story. I knew that from the start. The vampires (called virals, in this book), are out to kill everything in their path. They rule the world, and there is no escaping them when they find you. This book is a “road” story, as survivors cross the American west looking for other survivors, and for a place of ultimate safety. It’s also a “quest” story. (Can’t explain that; you have it read it for yourself) There is also a strong element of the supernatural running through the story, centred on one of the main characters, a girl, Amy, who is possibly 100 years old, and who seems to be indestructible-as a result of the virus.
This story ends with a bang. (Hey, I actually finished the book!) Rumour has that there will be two sequels to the novel. Rumour also has it that Ridley Scott has bought the film rights to The Passage, and if he makes a movie of this, it’s gonna be one scary “road movie.” But I will go see it, and that is something coming from me, who avoids scary movies like the plague. Can’t wait to see what Ridley Scott does with this story. I liked this book; it’s an entertaining yet challenging story which demands plenty from the reader.

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Remembering 9/11

On this, the 9th anniversary of 9/11, it’s almost impossible not to recall the events of that dreadful day.

This graphic is a gift from a talented friend, Fountaindawg, to whom I send a hug and a big “thank you!”

Tonight, in memory of those who died 9 years ago today, I will watch my copy of the film 9/11, which was created and produced by the two French filmmakers who happened to be filming the firefighters that day. Their film is mesmerizing, even though the viewer knows the outcome, and it is difficult to watch without crying once again.

We will never forget.

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It was a dark, wet afternoon as The Canadian slowly began to pull out of the Winnipeg station. I had been aboard since the start of her trip some 30-odd hours earlier. When we departed Toronto’s Union Station on Saturday morning, the sun had been shining. As the afternoon passed, we enjoyed vistas of sparkling southern Ontario lakes hemmed in by their sentinel pine trees. The clear blue waters of Lake Simcoe had given way after Washago to the deep dark brown lakes of The Canadian Shield. The vacation village of Bala was hunched across a windswept Lake Muskoka. All these lakes and places of my youth slid by as if in a dream, real yet untouchable from the comfort of my steel-domed coach.

Sunday morning had passed quickly in a blur of rocks and trees and lakes. By this time the American tourists were beginning to wonder how long the panorama could continue, and how we could possibly still be in the same province. “Provinces are sort of like our states, Gerald,” one woman said to her husband. The concept of a day and half to cross a province by train was almost beyond most of them. “That’s nothing,” I said. “It takes about three days to drive across Ontario.” Late on Sunday afternoon, under a greying, stormy sky, The Canadian crossed into Manitoba, and the scrubby landscape began to straighten out. The Americans wanted to know if we grew anything on the flat land. Presumably they had been confused by the hours of non-arable bush country of Northern Ontario. Do you grow wheat here? they asked, as the fertile plains began to roll by. Tactfully, we Canadians pointed out that our prairie is a continuation of theirs.

We slid at last into the Winnipeg station in a downpour. Most of the passengers, longing for a breath of fresh air, sprinted for the street, being forbidden the platform during the crew change and servicing of the train. Out on Portage Avenue, the rising wind drove a stinging cold rain. Being ill-equipped for a wet dash across to the Fort Garry Hotel to seek out new daily papers, I elected to stay warm and dry and drink bad coffee in the Silver and Blue Lounge of the station.

45 minutes later we were underway, in the rainy gloom. We started and stopped, waited and advanced, waited again. I idly watched a young man smoking in a wooded park, just below my window. Why does a chap stand in the rain near the rail line and smoke in a downpour? He caught my eye and I felt embarrassed, as though I had been snooping on him. He blew a cloud of smoke uphill in my direction, climbed on his mountain bike, and sturdily pedaled off into a clump of ragged trees. He vanished down a sloping hillside.

The Canadian jerked to life, and I made my way up into the dome. Visibility was rapidly deteriorating, and the evening lights on prairie homesteads winked in the dusk. Soon they disappeared, just as the lights of cars on the parallel highway vanished into a fog. Fog? This couldn’t be fog, for it had been much too cold in Winnipeg. As I realized this, the head end of the train vanished from sight. Now I could see only the first couple of sleeping cars ahead of the dome.

This was not fog; this was a snow squall, blotting out the landscape. Our world now was truly just the snug little world of the train: the darkened dome, a good dinner waiting in the dining car, and a cosy berth at the end of the day. In the morning, there would be snowdrifts beside the tracks, and Saskatchewan would be mostly behind us.

~ November, 2000

© spikeymom@gmail.com.

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Slipping sideways along the shore
We silently stalk a loon.
Whispering pines slide by,
Speaking of wildflowers.

Gold and russet, yellow and sere,
Autumn leaves drift gently
In the September noon.
Sweet wood smoke hangs in the air.

Sudden in the fading sunshine
Comes a visitor to the water’s edge.
Slowly lumbering into the lake,
Moose takes his territory.

Wordlessly we admire
His gangly beauty; then
Rewarded, well satisfied,
We skim the calm waters home.

©1998 spikeymom@gmail.com

Photo courtesy of Beach Command Post, ©2010

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