summer of becoming – the unfolding blossom


These last days at Hay Lake have, oddly, begun to feel like reentry of sorts, like I’ve been diving down and am beginning to surface again. Rhythms have a way of emerging, seasons unfolding, open and closed like a blossom, without our need or ability to control, often outside even our awareness.

Saturday evening, leaving the site in my car for the first time (in what seemed like so very much longer than the 10 days?? I had been there) to attend the long anticipated evening of ‘Celebrating Algonquin’- in photography, art, film and live presentations -at the Visitor Centre felt strangely enlivening. Finished with my chores for the day, I wrapped a skirt around the t-shirt at my waist and let down my hair.  Erin noted that I looked like Cinderella going off to the ball.  Indeed, it felt something like that, me, the anonymous stranger milling about in that intimate crowd of Algonquin’s admirers.

The weekend unfolded as weekends here do, with guests to attend. The power was out for 9 hours or so on Sunday morning. One might have thought it was from the wind that rattled the panes, it felt so utterly synchronous, but it was a planned outage for maintenance, and so we were prepared with lanterns and a large-enough generator to make coffee in Erin’s kitchen for guests.  The mountains of laundry from Sunday checkouts were mine to tackle after the power came back.

On Monday, I was out early to make the 4 hour drive to Killarney, then back, to pick up the used canoe that we’d purchased from an outfitter there. She’s atop my car now, still a stranger, the outfitter’s decal removed, in its place a turtle to pledge her as my familiar.  Even a drive in this landscape floods the eyes with beauty – pink granite poured out on the canvas like silk, deep reaching horizons of alpine bog stretched across the frame of the windshield – inviting the entrance of the imagination much moreso than any piece of evocative art in the gallery.

Later Sunday evening, shortly after I’d returned, a call came into the lodge that an 84 year old gentleman down the lake had collapsed, unconscious, in his cabin, and Erin took off with little else than a flashlight in her boat to retrieve him. Leaving the lodge, she feared she was being summoned to gather a body. I stayed behind, feeling quite powerless, to stand by the phone and await the ambulance.  When Erin returned with the man and his family, we all breathed a sigh of relief, for he seemed to have recovered from whatever episode had besot him. Erin opened a cabin for them to stay the night, while I thought to look up a recipe for biscuits when the family requested some with their tea.. but soon foolishly realized that my definition of biscuit was likely quite different than theirs. Our laughter around that made for a release of the evening’s adrenaline.

I continue to be amazed by Erin’s role here. She is relied upon by more than her guests, she is also integral to the community that has sprouted around this rural lake. Folks show up at the lodge with stray dogs they have found, or call from the lake when an engine is tangled in fishing wire. Guests fall from chairs to break windowpanes, or to knock open their heads on the dock. Neighbors fall from ladders.  Guests request maps to search for mines they have purchased, unseen, or plywood sheets for beneath mattresses, either of which Erin reaches in to pull out of storage like a white rabbit from inside a black hat. In return, they bring to her offerings of gratitude.. lake trout from the day’s catch or leftover lasagna from a reunion of friends, afghans for warmth or lamps made of stone.

Lodge owner, musician, coroner.  Carpenter, mechanic, guide.


So quickly, it feels as if we have been together like this for years, rather than just these 13 days. In such a brief span of time, we have cried and laughed together. Worked hard and laid back, shoulder to shoulder.  She has shown me so very much of who I might be.

When the blossom of time slows down like this, folding into itself, it makes one understand how it is that eternity can fit into a grain of Blake’s sand, how so much life can fit into such little space. With nothing here to pull me asunder and scatter my parts to the wind, perhaps the whole of me has been able to show up, to come out and play.  Perhaps it is this quality of ‘being here now’ that saturates a space such as this with belonging.  

Looking through the hand lens at this microcosm of moss near my feet, I wonder if perhaps I might also be invited to spend my one wild life in just such an eternity as that, filled with small wonders as this. Simply Being – here where I am, as I am, who I am – without feeling so overwhelmed by the ‘too much’ in which I so frequently find myself, feeling lost.  If I am to bloom where I am planted, perhaps I need a small nook tucked into a rock by a body of water.

My canoeing companions will head out in the morning, email lists have been flying and last minute addendums attached.  Tomorrow I will hold vigil, in a way, keeping the place here as my friend keeps an appointment, but also safekeeping this space in my heart.  As I clear out and clean out my cabin, my loved ones will be driving north, our time of reunion drawing closer. May my heart remain cleared out, as well, and the whole of me show up to greet them.

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