Hay Lake morning reprise


I am writing from Hay Lake Lodge, where I have been staying between trips into the Park (Algonquin). I was last camping in the park for a week with 3 women the last week of August and will be going back into the park on the 14th for 10 days more. This last trip will be my fifth of this season. I am blessed, indeed.


This early morning it rains. It is the first such rainy day since I arrived in Algonquin with my 3 friends on the 24th of August. I am grateful for the invitation that the weather extends to me this day to be still at last ( I am also grateful that Erin, the lodge owner, does not need me to help out until 2 or 3 this afternoon). I do not feel the pressure to DO anything… nor even to get out and SEE everything, as if  how I am spending my hours right here and now is not enough.  This morning, I need not report either to work or to the canoe.

It was not until Tuesday this week, after the women left on Thursday morning, that I felt like I had a moment to myself (that is, when I was not sleeping!)  Erin did indeed need some help around here, moreso when the weekend woman called off sick for the ‘hectic’ holiday weekend.  I have been in bed most nights by 8:30, exhausted. Running a Canadian lodge on a lake is not so glamourous a life, after all, though Erin does it so graciously.  She has a gift for hospitality from which I can learn.


 Still, I am grateful, always grateful to be here. Life next to the water is so revelatory for me, making what is so often invisible or unnoticed, more perceptible somehow. Not only the mists that rise and roll from the waters each morning, revealing the unseen but always present currents and gradients, but the surface of the lake itself, which can go from mirror-like to windswept in the span of 15 minutes time, from reflecting the clouds in their depths to being stirred awake by them… not unlike my experience of the Sacred, who is reflected in our own depths and then stirs us awake when we least expect it.


The sky, too, continues to be my companion and guide these last weeks, speaking to me of transformation and change. The sky is so much a part of the landscape here, and is as changeable as the water, the relationship between the two so very apparent here.  From early morning blankets of gray , to breaking blues and clouds of every shape and hue, to stars so deep and vast your mind’s eye can’t seem to process them at all, the sky becomes from moment to moment something new.


Stillness and peace have befallen me, at last. The past 2 days of ease in the schedule have helped me so much, as has getting out on the water again, paddling each morning from the dock at the lodge where I’m staying.

On Tuesday, I had the entire day to myself and I took off in my canoe down to the spillway at the far end of Lower Hay Lake.  Along the way, next to a rock face, I met an otter, who I would have missed entirely had he not risen to hiss behind me. I also trailed a northern Harrier for a time along the shoreline of a small marshy area, and a kingfisher came chattering across the water there, too. Still, in some ways that paddle felt ‘noisy’ to me. There were a few motorboats and cottages here and there on the upper half, and I could hear the logging traffic somewhere along the ridges, near the powerline…of course, then there were the 2 military planes who swept around the corner, evidently practicing flying beneath the radar!  I think my heart stopped for a moment as I felt my body instinctively dive and duck into the canoe.


Here are just a few photos from that paddle


 Yesterday though… oh my oh my. I paddled the opposite direction through bogs and marshes on the way to Drizzle Lake, my friend leading me into the cranberry bog, before she had to turn back. The dawning waters were quiet, the sun, in its heavy blanket of early grey, barely illuminating the water and the ridge, which is revealing the barest of autumn’s hints on the tops of her trees. Alone now, I paddled through the silent bog,  up close to some beaver lodges, where I could hear the beavers mewling inside, which felt so terribly intimate to me.  Beavers have long spoken to me, intimately, of crafting a personal environment of safety and nurture, one which transforms the landscape around you to one of blessing, while at the same time creating a habitat of rich abundance, where others might also thrive.


Farther into the bog I poked with my boat, stirring up some mergansers at one point. So many trails to pursue, but I finally followed the flow, around the bend and into a more open marshland, where again a pair of Northern Harriers hunted, while flashing their white tail band. I noted some Pitcher plants, with their reddened stems and leaves, rising up from the bog, luring the insects they capture in their cupped leaves for food.  So many lessons here to integrate….perhaps in another writing, or perhaps not. At last, I turned back, my own need for food stirring me, knowing I had a long paddle back and I had packed no lunch today.


Being on the water is prayer for me. I can explain it no other way. There I am stilled and quieted, like that babe at her mother’s breast, attentive and present to life in a way that brings me to stillness and wonder, gratitude and faith. The motion of the paddle is like a mantra that stills my heart/mind and ‘I am’ simply in the presence of the sacred. When I rise from that water, as from the prayer cushion, I am somehow transformed…. like the water itself, by the water itself, and by the spirit hovering  over and within it all.


The lodge and the lake are awakening now. Lights have gone on and screen doors are banging. I shall resist the co-dependent urge to get up and be ‘useful’, let this screen be boundary enough to allow me to simply observe. Can I be present here in the same manner that I sit in my canoe, observant and drifting alone, in curious wonder and deep appreciation for all of the strange and wondrous workings of life. The rain has eased again.


To paddle or not to paddle. That is the question.





3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. kidfriendlyyoga
    Sep 08, 2016 @ 19:26:22

    I felt peaceful reading this. Beautifully expressed.



  2. Trackback: summer of becoming | Emmaatlast's Weblog
  3. Trackback: Summer of Becoming – an algonquin affair

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: