summer of becoming – two women, one canoe – 6


Day 7, morning, Hay Lake Lodge

Silver lake, early coffee, quiet dawn. There is something about this place that simply elicits stillness, and though I had thought to sleep late, the quiet of the dawn enticed me to rise with it.

The lake is rippled silver, mirroring the sky, a subtler beauty than the riot of pink that washed over both last evening at dusk. We were late (too late) arriving after a long, long day….

We’d begun the day early, as planned. I’d been awake since 4 am, when I rose to walk to the water’s edge for a view of the stars, which had finally come out to play. The southwestern sky was littered with them, so many I couldn’t name one in the crowd. An hour later, I was dressed and packing my tent as the water boiled for the coffee.

We were on the lake paddling in the rising and rolling mist/fog of dawn. Once again, my camera (at last with a dry lens) ran out of battery power on this, the last day, which was the most beautiful by far ! I suppose I really must stop attempting to video anything. It’s just that that loon call so early in the dawn was so clear and so haunting, echoing across the bay, that I wanted to capture that beauty. Can one ever ‘capture’ beauty? Is it wise to do so? So often I wonder, does attempting to do so take me out of the moment, or draw me into it?

We watched a beaver, and later her mate, on their morning rounds in the dark water as we entered too. Rounding the bend, the yellow sun warming the morning fog with her golden haze, we encountered a family of otters in the lily lined passage. We also spooked some black ducks and mergansers, whose flutter of wings stirred the still air. Approaching the portage, two herons, one drying her wings in the tree, the other wading for a fish, joined the morning array.

The paddle through the Petawawa between Little Misty and Daisy was laden with watery jewels, individual droplets dotting the lily pads with diamonds, thousands of dewdrops coating the morning webs, so as to make them appear to be crocheted from my grandmother’s thick cotton thread rather than from the silk that they are. It is wondrous to me that their intricacy can bear all the weight of that water.

The frogs poked their eyes from atop the grasses, bent over in the subtle current, and from lily pads moistened with dew, as we paddled along disturbing their beds but not seeming to stir them to distraction, intent as they were upon breakfast.

We stopped by the campsite on Daisy, where my husband and I had watched the moose splash in the shallows last autumn. I’d so love to bring my women to this site in a few weeks when I return, and I wanted to check it out.

(oh, a loon just emerged from the depths next to this deck where I sit with a fish in her mouth!)

The final lakes and portages were busy, full of people also in love with this place, folks coming in and going out- one large extended family group of 18, another of 9, and multiple groups of 2 or 4, making the portage trails feel hurried, though perhaps the rush got us to the takeout sooner in the end.  One group had 6 little ones under the age of 7, each one carrying some piece of gear across the 400 meter portage from Daisy to the ‘pond’. I hope to be bringing my little ones to this place one of these years.

A grandmother with her children and teenage grandchildren also inspired me (this was the group of 18). So, now I am imagining my children and grandchildren swimming the sandy shore of that Daisy Lake campsite, leaving those waters at dinnertime to allow the moose family its turn.

The drive from the east side of the park to Hay Lake was long, after such a long day (though we were in the parking lot at the Magnetawan access point by 2, sooner than we’d imagined) . The stop at the visitor center with its fabulous bookstore, I could’ve easily passed by on this trip, as I will have so many opportunities this season to visit, but how could I deny that nourishing stop to my friend. Too often, it is me who longs to stop and browse there, just awhile longer, The next stop, for nourishment of another sort, at a lunch bar was somewhat less satisfying, but by then it was far too late to arrive at Hay Lake requesting a meal.

Now, my friend has also risen from sleep. Breakfast will soon be delivered to our room. And so, we will break bread together one last time, the sacred and rich nourishment of our time away sealed with a morning croissant.















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