Canada Day Weekend

Our Canada Day long weekend was peaceful and rejuvenating. For us, a weekend spent in each other’s company, tucked away from the rest the of the world, watching the birds, the insects, the clouds floating in the sky, and the trees swaying in the breeze, is a perfect way to celebrate that we live in Canada.

On Friday evening Attila hooked Tank up with Iris the Trailer and we headed for the Rideau Camp. It is a lovely drive to the camp, we take back roads that are not heavily travelled, due to the low speed limit. Since we are in no particular hurry the low speed limits suit us just fine.

After we arrived Attila took some time to position the trailer, and it was odd that the battery light in Tank came on during this process, so Attila turned off the interior lights, so that as we were in and out of Tank over the weekend they would not turn on automatically each time the door opened.

We set up the trailer, and a kitchen canopy that we bought almost two decades ago for a camping trip when Terra was a teenager. We seldom get rid of things if they have a practical use. It took us a very long time to need the kitchen tent again. It is in pristine condition, set up very easily, and was placed over the picnic table. It smelled a bit mildewy when Attila set it up, but a day in the strong sun cured that, so that by the end of the weekend the smell had completely disappeared.

The Rideau Camp, all set up for the weekend. Attila’s strimmer does a wonderful job of keeping the weeds short, it almost looks like a lawn! Most of the greenery is white clover, which I planted in the early spring, just after we finished tearing out the hundreds of bramble plants. Attila and I still spend an hour or so on every visit, pulling out short bramble regrowth; eventually it will just give up and be gone, but not this year.
Rideau iris

On Friday afternoon the clouds rolled in, big black clouds, and thunder could be heard in the distance. Eventually the thunder passed us to the north, but the rain poured down. Luckily the kitchen tent protected our kitchen gear, and us, for the duration of the downpour, which didn’t last long. The sun came out again, only to be followed a few ours later by another big black cloud, which poured rain down on us a second time. It still wasn’t enough rain though, to refresh the dry forest. The rest of the weekend was sunny and warm.

On Saturday morning Attila and I went for a walk down to our shared waterfront. It was a disappointing experience. The water level was low, and the wind had washed quite a bit of organic material onto the shoreline, which was rotting and emitted a mildly unpleasant odour. The lake bottom was shallow and there were lots of plants growing, obscuring the sandy bottom. Although this isn’t wonderful for human recreation, it is wonderful for fish, and fish breeding. The dock had been repaired, and a new section added, which provided a nice place to sit at the waterfront. At some point we will take our chairs down to the lake to sit and watch the passing big boats that are travelling the Rideau Canal system. Whoever repaired the dock threw around four or five large plastic barrels, which littered the water and the shore. Obviously no one in particular is caring for this piece of real estate.

As we were walking back towards our camp from the waterfront, a couple with a medium sized black dog were out walking towards the waterfront.

As they approached us on the road the woman called out, “Don’t worry about the dog, he is friendly!”

Immediately the man called out, “Don’t worry I’ve got him on a leash.”

So we didn’t worry. As we drew nearer the dog began to growl, then began to lung and loudly bark at us. The man had tight control of the leash, and the dog was kept under control. In what universe would a dog like that be defined as friendly!

Attila and I chatted about the proliferation of dogs in the area, there seem to be a lot of barking, unfriendly dogs. Attila thinks it is because there are so many monster houses and expensive cottages near us, people keep guard dogs. There are some exceptions though. We have met the neighbours on either side of our property, and their dogs are friendly, very friendly.

However, dogs that are in a pack are extremely dangerous, even the gentlest, most loving pets, as they will revert to predator pack behaviour immediately. I learned this when I was teaching at an outdoor centre and one of our students was attacked by a pack of pet dogs, who came close to killing her, had she not escaped serious injury by climbing a tree. The dogs were all beloved pets, running loose and free in “God’s Country”, as the city people called it. I love dogs, but at the same time I respect who they are.

Our Rideau Camp is surrounded by monster houses (country estates) and waterfront cottages. The people we purchased it from intended to build a large country estate on the property. The couple in the expensive SUV that drove in one weekend to inquire about buying the property intended to build a country estate. The people who had an accepted offer on the property just before we bought it, had lost the deal because they couldn’t get financing to build a large country estate. Other former owners included: a fellow who flew in by float plane from the USA to stay in a “tin shack” on the land during his stay, we have found no evidence of a tin shack; owners who intended to build a cedar stack wall home; owners who installed a well; and owners who built the driveway. We suspect that the property was originally settled as part of a farm, and used as a pasture.

We know about the cedar stack wall home because the cedar logs were stacked on skids, then bulldozed into a huge pile on the property, probably when the driveway was put in. According to one long time resident in the area, nearby neighbours have been helping themselves to the logs for years and years, to use as firewood. We are finding logs embedded in piles of roots and earth, shoved aside when the driveway was built, or so we think. The logs are old, some rotted quite away. Yet when Attila removed some from the huge pile, and split them, we found that beneath a one inch layer of weathered wood lies sound, fresh looking cedar. What a terrible waste!

A front end loader pushed over dozens of smaller trees, and stacked them on the top of the huge pile of cedar logs. Attila spent our long weekend pulling down the dead trees, sectioning them, and piling them near the fire pit. I spent the long weekend burning the wood that Attila piled for me.

Before: The cedar log pile with the dead trees piled high on top. There is a sea of brambles in front of it, which is now white clover.
DSCF8022
After: The cedar log pile with the dead trees removed and burned. The pile is still taller than Attila, but not quite as intimidating as it was.
Rideau cedar log pile july

I have decided to see if I can figure out any practical used for the sound cedar logs, it seems such a shame to burn them. But it is unlikely I will discover any good use for them, and it is most likely that I will spend the rest of the summer burning them.

We were able to spend a fair amount of time just sitting in the shade, watching the clouds roll by, and the trees swaying in the wind. We observed a Hawk, a Blue Heron, a Scarlet Tanager, an unidentified tiny bird that flew like a small rocket across the clearing, several Crows, a Robin, and a Blue Jay. We heard Pileated Woodpeckers in the forest, and a Loon on the lake. I thought perhaps it was a bird that sounded like a Loon that we heard, but I have been unable to discover any birds that sound like Loons.

On our walk we observed many wild plants. Wild Daisies, Chicory, Red Clover, Mullein, Giant Hogweed, Wild Parsnip, Birdsfoot Trefoil, Purple Vetch, various grasses, and many plants that I cannot identify.

Comfrey growing by the side of the road, it has many medicinal uses.
Rideau Comfrey
We were amazed at the masses of wild daisies growing along the sides of the road, so very pretty.
Rideau daisy
I am suspicious that the plants with three leaves in the right of the photo are Poison Oak. I haven’t seen Poison Oak before, so I am not sure, but better safe than sorry.
Rideau poison oak

We had a wonderful weekend that was over all too soon. On Sunday morning, after a pancake and pineapple breakfast, we began to pack our gear to return home. Just after lunch Attila hooked Tank to Iris and off we went.

The weather was lovely, sunny with cotton candy clouds floating across the sky. The drive home might have been more enjoyable though, had it not been for the battery warning light, and the falling battery gauge. At first the gauge maintained its position, but when were about 40 km from home it began to fall. By the time we were entering our home town it had fallen drastically and all the warning lights on the dashboard had lit up. It was a tense drive through downtown, and finally, just as we turned off the main road into our neighbourhood, the engine began to falter. We chugged along the road, ever more slowly, until finally we turned the corner of our own street, at which point the engine died completely. We coasted down the street, coming to a stop just in front of our house.

As Tank came to standstill, Attila and I looked at each other and broke into riotous laughter. What are the odds of Tank making it all the way home and dying at just the right point so that we could coast to our own front door!

It was one lucky weekend!

This morning I called the garage, and Tank is in there now for repair. We think it is the alternator, but won’t know for sure until we hear from the mechanic. They kindly drove me home for the day, and we will pick up Tank tomorrow, when Attila after gets home from work.

So today started out busy, then it played out very quietly. They drove me home, it isn’t far. I have busied myself with laundry, sorting through the camping gear, paying bills and figuring out where to get the money to pay for Tank’s repair bill. It is all working out, with a little effort.

Worldly Distractions

Weather

27°C
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 4 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Tendency: falling
Visibility: 24 km
Temperature: 21.3°C
Dewpoint: 17.4°C
Humidity: 78%
Wind: S 19 km/h
Humidex: 29

Quote

“Age is opportunity no less
Than youth itself, though in another dress,
And as the evening twilight fades away
The sky is filled with stars, invisible by day.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 – 1882

Aging seems significantly different to me now than it did before I was middle aged. Until that first pinch of agism entered my universe, I thought very little about aging, and perceived it as feeling similar to youth, and just appearing outwardly more worn. In reality, looking different is the least of possible disadvantages of getting older. Since middle age I have known being older is not at all like being young, physically, mentally, or spiritually. Age added much more than it took away. It made me invisible, but only to the superficial and the shallow. It took some of my health, but gave me respect for my body as the vessel of my journey. It took away loved ones, which taught me to value every minute spent with those who remain. I like being old, and I hope to do it for a very long time.

15 Comments

  1. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Love the pic of Iris at the campsite. Quite idyllic.

    Glad the majority of the rain missed you while you were out and about, though the land could use the rain. It’s been quite dry here, too. Our grass is brown and crunchy and only the plantain has enough energy to put out tassles.

    I wonder if one of the small, private mill companies that converts barn wood would be interested in your cedar? If it could be planked it might do well as ‘rescued’ wood for new furniture. It’s been done with wood found underwater from old logging operations so maybe…

    What perfect timing with Tank’s battery! So glad you made it all the way home.

  2. Teri, the camp site looks better after every visit, we have such fun puttering around getting things the way we want them. Ontario is dry this year, at Mist Cottage we have been watering the garden on a regular basis. Attila cuts the lawn longer when things are dry, it helps the grass survive. But we have lots of drought resistant plants on our lawn, like wild strawberries, yellow hawkweed, bindweed, dandelions, and clover, it isn’t as nice as grass, but it sure stays green in dry conditions!

    That is a good idea about the cedar logs. I plan on taking pictures of a bisection and of the wood split, so that I can show the internal condition of the logs.

    Tank’s timing was amazing when you consider we were on the road home for well over an hour. It just seemed so improbable that she would come to rest right in front of our house. 🙂

  3. It’s a bit disturbing to hear about the monster houses that are proliferating in your area. It seems so out of step with what you and Attila are creating there. It makes me wonder if there are any limits on the size of lots people are allowed to buy. I hope civilization, if that’s what you can call it, doesn’t take over the wilderness areas until there is nothing left!

  4. I think your angel, Mist, was with you for the trip and guided Tank back home the way it happened. It seems amazing, but angels have powers that we just don’t understand…

    Isn’t cedar a natural mosquito-repellent? Could you split the logs and build a little circle (like standing stones) somewhere near the campfire and maybe the wood would act as a bug repellent?

  5. Diane, it is disturbing that the affluent are fleeing the cities to displace viable rural communities with estates and guard dogs. There is also a disturbing trend that has been going on for decades, where residential development has eaten up rare prime agricultural land. I have published work on the topic of loss of prime farmland in Ontario, Canada, and it is alarming to contemplate the destruction of local food sources. The global economy and profit motive have dictated that much of agricultural production be based on economies of scale and monoculture. The human species is drunk with the heady buzz of competition and accumulation of wealth, at least the 1% are drunk with it, the rest of us just don’t seem to have what it takes to turn our backs on toxic human behaviours, because they are all shiny and glittery and seem so safe, so normal, so desirable. Since I began studying at university I have been horrified by the developments in our economies and communities, but have been helpless to initiate any effective change. I have come to suspect it is because people only accept change when it is glittery and well presented, a predilection that the 1% know how to exploit. For the last 40 years I have been concerned about these things. At first, when I was studying for my initial degree related to food and human nutrition, I was considered a bit of an nonconformist. As those ideas became more generally shared by the population, and then coopted by profit seekers, my ongoing observations continued to be considered as nonconformist. There is a lot going on in the world of human progress that is unseen, unspoken, and not in the best interest of the human species. The way of things in our current way of living and interacting with the natural world, and each other, is very disturbing, the further back one steps from the status quo.

    I see progress as a me thing, and change as a we thing.

  6. Bex, what a lovely thought about our Angels! I think you might be right, although there is no way to confirm it, but it feels right, and I believe in paying attention to those inner feelings and inspiratons.

    A cedar ring! A delightful idea, I will be doing some research on that!!

  7. I should have known that you were on the cutting edge of preserving farmland. I admire your perspective, and the way of life you have adopted! It’s scary, but can still be contained, if governments would just wake up to what’s happening. The governments, of course, are “us”, and we all need to wake up!

  8. Diane, I like your optmism! I am more cynical about deliberate change, and think that things won’t change until something unpleasant forces change. Governments are far too tied to their campaign supporters, and influenced by “stakeholders”, lobbyists, and other groups vying for power, so that I doubt very much that a government would be the engine moving us along towards change in the direction we need to go. As one prominent MP said to me in writing on Facebook, “I am not looking for viable and profound solutions to the world’s problems. My job is to have a team in place to beat [name of oppostion]…” and that is direct quote, which he tried to delete a few hours later, but couldn’t because Facebook leaves all written material in the edits. And he is at Canada’s cutting edge of government people pushing for “reform”. And I believe he meant what he said, that it sounded different to him when he said it, somehow noble, then he realized that even in context, it was not a noble sentiment. This is but one example of the hundreds of disappointing revelations re the politicians who are not members of the “we thing” that I am referring to.

  9. TopsyTurvy (Teri)

    Piggy-backing on Diane’s comments, the thing that fascinates me is that the ‘tiny house’ craze that has been growing is near impossible to do in Canada. Areas have minimum standards for house sizes and the tiny houses are too small. People who want to build a tiny house must lobby for changes in bylaws in order to build.

    Maggie, Mist Cottage would not be legal in many areas. It’s too small! And yet there’s no problem in building large, sprawling homes that misuse or over-power their enviroment.

  10. Good points Teri!

    Mist Cottage would be legal in some municipalities, and not in others. Mostly, the municipalties where the local population has been cleared away by highly competitive land prices and high taxation, where the municipal governments have been taken over by seasonal and/or very affluent city people (such as cottagers in Muskoka), there is a constant rewriting of building by-laws which work to ensure that the majority of Canadians cannot afford the price of entry to live in rural settings. In Scotland the elite undertook “the clearances”, the visible and obvious destruction of rural communties. In Canada “the clearances” are not so obvious to the casual observer, but just as devastating to the healthy rural way of life that once existed in this country (and still does in some areas).

  11. Yes Teri, the second one for sure! Ours is not only a vintage trailer, it was never a luxury trailer.

    I love the Airstreams, loved my little Argosy Airstream, but I bought it in the day when a used trailer wasn’t a popular consideration, and therefore it was reasonably priced. New Airstream trailers cost more than a modest home in a small town, they are quite luxurious, and are so expensive that their prices are seldom revealed online. If I had to live in a trailer, I would choose an Airstream! But we chose to live in a very small house and own a small inexpensive vintage trailer.

  12. I think that you’re already approaching your vision of “glamping”. There are so many ideas out there. It’ll be interesting to see where you go with it all.

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