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.
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.
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.
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.
We were amazed at the masses of wild daisies growing along the sides of the road, so very pretty.
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.
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.
Date: 11:00 AM EDT Monday 4 July 2016
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.7 kPa
Visibility: 24 km
Wind: S 19 km/h
“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.