Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Summer is winding down

There is a day, every summer, when you know the warm days are coming to an end. There is a subtle shift in the air, the light is different, the mornings a bit colder and one day, you catch a whiff of smoke from someone's fireplace and you know it's time to say goodbye for another year. We're almost at that point, but I cling to the myth that summer ain't over until the last kayak is put away, the bird feeder is packed up, and the garden is put to bed. My nephew agrees.

I'm still at the cottage, which is why my posts are few and far between. Forgive me if I haven't responded to your emails or comments. Dial-up is so long and frustrating I want to pitch my laptop in the lake, so every so often (when I can't stand it anymore) I wander down the dirt road to my friend Anna's cottage and steal a bit of her high speed time while we share a cup of Chai tea. So forgive me. I will be back. Just not yet.

I've still got a few more days here in paradise before I pack up and fly my Youngest to university. It's bittersweet saying goodbye to one's children - you know they're going to be having one of the greatest adventures of their lives, where they will make life-long friends, perhaps meet the love of their lives, choose a career path, discover books and philosophy and aspects of themselves they never knew existed. But it's wrenching for a mother to watch yet another child leave home. And it's just as hard the third time around as it was the first.

Every little birdie has to leave the nest someday, or so they say. I say fight dirty and stock the nest with homemade brownies, lots of cold cuts and a flat-screen TV.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Flying Jewels and other beasts

I love hummingbirds and at the lake, they are everywhere. They are fearless little birds constantly buzzing around like little Spitfire pilots, fighting each other for food and territory (hm, sounds like my house.) Capturing them on film requires patience and perseverance, which is not my forte, but I did manage a few.

When they are mature, the males have ruby throats and luminous, iridescent green backs, like little flying jewels. Check out the teenage male (third photo down) his throat not fully red, just two dots.

Of course we have other birds at the lake like these:
But just in case you think everything is fine in paradise, this thing showed up to spoil the party.

Truly, I am cursed....

Monday, August 17, 2009

How's your summer?

Back at my friend's cottage dubbed the Lake Louisa Internet Cafe due to the influx of internet-deprived cottagers who regularly show up on the lawn to "borrow" access for our internet fix. Forgive the typos because I'm dashing this off before I get the boot. (Actually I've just been offered lunch on the terrace. Life is good, very good, at the moment.)

So how has everyone been spending their summer? Here's my friend Bruce in his plane. He commutes to the lake from his home in Ottawa and it's our custom to wave hello and goodbye every weekend. This means he buzzes our cottage, I run out with a tea towel and wave madly and Bruce tips the wings in response. Even Buddy knows when Bruce is above us and he runs in circles and out on the deck in a mad frenzy.
And a bit of that:
(No that's not me hanging off the side. That's my friend Arlene, with my hubby and her husband Claude "The Pad Man" manning the keel or hoisting the petard or whatever it is one does when one sails. Me, I'm a landlubber with a long lens.)

And then last Saturday was the Lake Louisa Great Relay Race. Teams of five compete for bragging rights and a really cool trophy made of a birch stump. Each team consists of a cyclist who bikes halfway around the lake to their runner who speeds through hill and dale and the occasional backyard over to two paddlers in a canoe who then paddle over to their swimmer who brings it home to the club dock. The spectators cheer from the club lawn while enjoying hotdogs and beer (my favourite part.)

Young and old participate, family members and friends from around the lake.

Some learn the hard way that the partying is best done AFTER the race, not the night before.
This team's uniform was a crowd favourite:

My nephews, or second cousins-in-law once removed or whatever, just goofing around:

And the grand prize winners! Just look at Les Boys.
The fellow in the Tilley hat is Lawrence, the organizer of the race. He gets up early and sweeps the road of debris, sets up traffic cones, etc. Oh, and he's a bachelor so if any of you ladies are looking for a good man....

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A couple of loons

And one caterpillar that looks like a dragon.

Poor little creature flinched every time the shutter clicked so I left him alone.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Back to cottage biznet

I'm slumming at a friend's cottage at the moment (she has internet connection so her kitchen is like an internet cafe as all the internet-deprived neighbours wander in with their laptops like zombies) so while I'm able to post another blog entry, I won't be able to comment until I get home again. Enjoy some of my new friends!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Say hi to Stanley

We had a surprise visitor to our lake yesterday. We've been buzzing with excitement for a week now and even the rain couldn't dampen our enthusiasm and high spirits as the time drew near to meet our special guest.

Meet Stanley. Stanley Cup.

It's a 35 pound, 116-year-old, silver Holy Grail of Hockey enscribed with over 2,700 names of players and others who have contributed to team wins over its history. Ken Sawyer, CEO of the Pittsburgh Penguins, the current champions of the NHL, is our neighbour up here at our summer cottage. He invited all of us to an up close and personal look at old Stanley. I'm so indebted I agreed to mow his lawn for the rest of the year. Not really. But I would if he wanted me to.

The official keepers of the cup carried Stanley into Ken's cabin with little ceremony (well, we are at the cottage) but wearing the ever-present white cotton gloves. It's a sign of respect for the cup to wear the gloves, said one of the keepers. But since the players handle the cup and drink from it, we can't ask the fans not to touch it. Meet Mike Bolt, who travels around the world with the cup, and is one of the two keepers who brought Stanley to our lake:

He said we could touch it, so touch it we did. The humid, rainy afternoon didn't dampen the enthusiasm of cottagers who turned out in the hundreds to hang out with the cup. We kissed it, hugged it, and even sat a baby on top, but one thing we weren't allowed to do was pick it up.

"You can't pick up the cup! You want to pick it up? Then win it!" shouted Mike.

Not to sound too new-agey, but seriously, there's a palpable buzz when you touch this shiny piece of history. The cup sat on a special round table out on a screened-in porch overlooking the lake, but the cabin had the feel of the Vatican about it as we all swirled around. 'Giggling reverence' is how I'd describe the mood. Here's me, hugging my new boyfriend:

And my husband Doug (to the right, shown here with Ken) who is so nonchalant about the whole thing. Not.

Mike the keeper had some stories to tell and he's the king of trivia. He kept everyone enthralled for over an hour. The Stanley Cup has been in a pool, a 200-degree sauna, abandoned by a Montreal roadside in a snowbank, dropped in the Rideau Canal and hauled to a 9,000 foot mountain top. Players have guzzled champagne, beer and Fruit Loops from the cup, though not at the same time.

He pointed out all the typos on the cup. Here's one, the 'Maple Leaes':

There is a palpable energy when you touch this piece of Canadian history. Grown men turned into little boys, literally hopping around it, grinning ear to ear. Even celebrities aren't immune to its power. Mike said he was in Malibu attending a party with the cup, and Tom Hanks popped in to see it. He's just like everyone else when they're around the Stanley Cup, said Mike. Excited and silly and deferential all at the same time.

Stanley is bigger than all of us.