Headed off this morning with more than a touch of guilt, knowing i wouldn’t be able to get back in time for the memorial i was supposed to go to this afternoon. A memorial for a woman named Saille that i worked with briefly on the arts council who was an artist and an activist. I thought of her a lot today, and my mom, who is in the hospital. I thought of how grateful i am to be able bodied, to be alive. We headed out this morning, Murray and I, as we have on many occasions to explore the lakes, rivers, side roads, mountains, and thrift shops of this beautiful province. I think of these drives as if we were going in to a house of worship, the big church, the grand cathedral, and Van Morrison and Leonard Cohen, along with Sharon and Murray are loudly singing the hymns. We were heading to Chehalis lake, which according to Murray is one of the most beautiful lakes he has ever seen. We drive up and find out that the road is washed out and closed. We drive down towards an area where there are more lakes up a very rough road. We stop at Weaver Lake and quickly leave. The place is jammed, Shaggy is blasting from the stereo of this huge black truck, there are lots of kids screaming and a mom sprawled out on a rubber dingy, tuning out, relaxing amidst the home away from home created at the lake.
Next stop, Grace Lake. A little swampy to get in to , but quiet, beautiful and great swimming. Put our suits on the log and swam around in the great natural tub for about an hour. Dragonflies zooming over my face while i was floating on my back, buzzing around my head while i was swimming, i couldn’t stop laughing, i felt like they were playing with me. We got out and headed back down the dusty road and stopped at Chehalis River. The water is crystal clear, freezing cold and full of beautiful rocks and families in scuba gear floating along with the current. Quick dip in the river, hard to stand near water and not go in, no matter how cold. We get out, get in the car and find a good road to drive down, one that takes us to another beautiful place. This time, the Limbert Mountain Farm, the Bouchard’s are the fourth generation on this 100yr old farm. They sell herbs, have a tea room, gift shop and offer cooking classes, a bit like my dream place. We decide to stay and splurge on lunch. We sit outside overlooking the field and the apple trees, we could be almost anywhere, Tuscany, Agassiz? We head off and stop again, this time for a cow and her new baby calf, just finding its legs, wobbling up, searching for its balance and getting a reassuring lick on the bum from his mom, umbilical cord still dangling from its belly. The mother cow stares at us, hard. I look in to her eyes to try and reassure her that harming either of them is the last thing on our minds, futile i guess, since this is our historic relationship. We move on, since this is the only real way to reassure both of them that we are not there to harm them, and it was time to leave. We drive further ahead, contemplating another lake, me still having pangs of guilt for not being at the memorial. Murray spots a black bear standing up in a corn field, he sees us and runs, a streak of black running through the corn, he pops his head up again, sees were still there, he runs, we leave for the next lake.
Thought i was done at this point. There’s always a point in the day where i feel like if we left now, would it be perfect, was it enough? We keep going, as we almost always do, even when it seems like its time to go. I let Murray take me down these roads, to these lakes, because mostly i trust his intuition and i need to trust mine that i can let someone take me somewhere and i will be fine, no need to rush back, i can just keep looking, taking it all in, this beautiful and complex world i get to live in. Lake of the Woods is in Hope (named after a huge lake that straddles the Manitoba-Ontario border) . I thought it would be a lake in the woods, its more like Lake off the Highway in the Woods. Great swimming though, easy to walk in to, perfect temperature. We swim towards these large rocks on the other side of the lake. I’m struggling for air, asthma. I stop and find my footing on some rocks at the half-way point, get some air, and we swim on to our destination. We climb on to the large rocks, and minnows are swimming all around me, i’m laughing, because like the dragonflies, they seem more curious than frightened by me. I have this thought that they might swim in to my bottoms, and i’m not sure what i would do, or could do. We swim back to shore, struggling for air again, and remembering the actor Gael Garcia Bernal in The Motorcycle Diaries. Playing Che Guevara, plagued with debilitating asthma, he swims across the water one night to the leper colony, he is breathless on his arrival, but he makes it. I wonder sometimes if i could cure myself with enough swimming.
We head towards home, but as always, many stops in between. A beautiful creek that Murray has made a mental note to come back to where we find a rock in the shape of a bicycle seat. A yard sale we have to stop at to get 10cent books and talk to the family. We see a sign along the highway that says Montreal Smoked Meat, we turn around and have dinner. My last smoked meat sandwich was at Schwartz’s, so this sandwich had some pretty tough competition. It was Dunn’s smoked meat still packed like a roll on the rye, very so so. We head home, for real this time. I am exhausted, i feel lake soft. I am looking forward to getting in to bed. I thought of this day as a way of honouring myself, Saille, and now that i think about it, every one i know who couldn’t be there to have dragonflies buzzing around their head, floating under the blue sky and drinking lavender lemonade at a 100 year old farm, along with my friend, who takes every chance he has to explore and appreciate the natural world, our collective house, in a curious and respectful way.