It is a record, two weeks of paid holidays in one year! Our first holiday was spent in Toronto, visiting the Royal Ontario Museum and listening to live music. Our second holiday, from which we have just returned, was almost at the opposite end of the entertainment scale. We spent a week with friends, in the wilderness, relaxing with good company, listening to profound silence and fishing in shallow marshy lakes.
Our holiday included two full days of travel by car, along the Trans Canada Highway. The trip north, into the Hudson Bay Lowlands, was relatively easy, and only took about 13 hours of driving. We had sunny skies, little wind and warm but not hot temperatures. Our trip back was challenging; some might call it terrifying. It rained the whole way, and for a few hours the rain was so intense as to reduce visibility to almost nil. Meeting fully loaded transport trucks on two lane highways is never appealing. However, when these trucks are met in a haze of fine spray and a gale like crosswind the effect is unforgettable. Add to this that we were in one of the smallest cars available on the North American market, which was blown about like a feather in a windstorm. We drove in these conditions for 16 hours. Attila said that near the end he felt as if he had been sentenced to life imprisonment behind the wheel. Attila got us home safe and sound.
Our time in northern Ontario was wonderful. We stayed at a camp about 60 miles north of the Trans Canada Highway, into the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Ontario.
Never before have I experienced such profound silence. Most of the trees were black spruce, a tree that seldom talks to the wind. There were few birds. But most significant was the absence of trains, planes and automobiles. I had always known that these modes of transportation produced a lot of sound, but until it had all been removed I did not understand the ubiquitous and incessant hum that accompanies modern transportation. How disruptive to wildlife is this relentless noise? The sound of silence gripped and soothed me, profoundly, and I cannot be the only living creature to be affected in this way.
Time spent in the wilderness requires some concessions. There is no cell phone service. Becoming lost can cost one their life. Once off the path, one is immediately visually lost to the landscape. Being found is unlikely once you are out of earshot. Even on the path, a walk requires some vigilance. Bears abound, and moose wander freely over their territory. Actually, it is not scary at all. One knows where the dangers lie and takes the simple steps to safety.
Creature comforts are in short supply in a bush camp. We washed each day out of a basin, with warm water heated on the propane stove. The beds were not what we are used to at home, but we were warm and dry and slept deeply. An ancient and well-used outhouse served its purpose well; I even made a few trips out in the wee dark hours with my headlamp.
As children, Attila and I both went fishing with our Grandfathers. We both loved fishing. Wonderful are the quiet hours sitting in a boat, gazing into the open sky, at the shoreline and the wildlife. Every day that we went out fishing we shared the lake with a pair of loons. They kept their distance, but were close enough for us to observe their fishing habits. A bald eagle nest bordered one of the lakes; it is a magnificent bird, regal and distant. And of course, mosquitoes and black flies accompanied all our activities, but were only fierce at dusk and dawn.
Our fishing licenses allowed a certain number of fish to be caught. During our morning fishing expeditions we caught our lunch. Pan-fried pike is delicious. The bones must be watched for though, as it is very unpleasant to get a bone stuck in your throat! I think I could eat pan-fried pike for my lunch every day for the rest of my life.
Our afternoon catch was filleted according to regulation (scales left intact for the inspector, if he or she searched our gear for quota infractions). The filleted fish was then washed and frozen in the propane freezer that was brought along. We came home with our quota of pike and of pickerel. Pickerel in particular is a delicious fish. Where my grandfather fished we caught lake trout, rainbow trout and bass, which we also pan-fried in butter.
When I was about ten years old it became mandatory to clean and fillet my own catch. My grandfather patiently guided me until my skill was sufficient to proceed without supervision. On our recent holiday trip I did not have to fillet my catch, as the three fishermen took the task on.
It was a week of warmth and friendship. Six of us, three couples, spent the week in each other’s company. In the afternoon the fellows would go out fishing on their own, and we three gals would sip our afternoon coolers and chat happily for hours, as we tidied up and prepared the evening meal. On a few evenings we had rousing games of poker, which was good fun. Poker is a game I am just learning, and what an excellent environment in which to learn!
Attila and I had the best holiday we could imagine. Our friends tell us that not everyone appreciates this type of holiday, these types of facilities, this level of solitude. From our perspective, the holiday was just this side of heaven.
|RECIPES :: Cast
Heading North! We left home about 1:30 A.M. and here it is, dawn already!
The trees were felled, these logs were piled high and then, unfortunately, abandoned.
Sections of the road run through the bogs. Meeting a logging truck on this stretch of road could be tricky. Driver beware.
Bald Eagle. This photograph was taken with a little camera from a great distance. Still, you can sense majesty and dismissal.
One of the small lakes, like the one we fished in.
The catch. Pickerel are delicious, although we only ate one while on holiday. The rest were frozen and packed for home.
A small bridge and the guardrail. Use-at-your-own-risk signs abound.
Rain and only 60 km to the highway. Sixteen hours later we arrived home, a little worse for wear and happy to fall into our own bed.
Pressure 101.7 kPa
Visibility 15 km
Humidity 78 %
Wind NNE 5 km/h
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