Bonnechere balance



“The name Bonnechere is made up of two French words: bonne and chère. Bonne, as an adjective can mean good, fair, pretty. As a noun or naming word, bonne can mean a servant girl, a maid. Chère as an adjective means dear or fond or loving or darling. When the two words are put together, there are new meanings: dear one, fair maid, good servant, darling sweetheart. (It can also mean a place of good food and fine dining)”



Monday afternoon, Sept 19.

We have landed upon a most stunning campsite –majestic sweeping views AND intimate coves, granite ledges AND sandy landings contained in one place, like holding a two sided gold coin in the palm of your hand. The long narrow appendage of granite rises up from the lake -at this moment so remarkably blue as it holds its mirror flat to reflect the cerulean sky – to form a cliff, upon which stately pines, white and red, also rise. One sentinel pine stands alone on the point, at a distance from the rest, invitational in her posture of patient watchfulness.  On the back side of the prominence are found countless shaded nooks, from which to bask in the beauty of the more intimate, many fingered bay that reaches around behind it.

So…. what have I been doing for the past hour instead of opening my heart and soul to wisdom and delight in this place? Baking my body in the sun on these rocks, casting a line over the edge (and getting in snagged more than a few times in the submerged boulders) attempting in vain to snag a fish to feed our bellies! Ugh. I am no fisherwoman. What am I trying to prove?

Our days do seem to be falling into a rhythm. Space for afternoons of solitude – exploring, reading, fishing, or resting – seems to have emerged, in which each of us can be alone with our thoughts (and at times, blessedly, in order to not inadvertently speak them aloud!). Conversation when we come back together has deepened and improved, perhaps as a result of this more spacious slowing of our days.

Tuesday morning, Sept 20

I have been up since 5:30 am-  dressed and combed my hair, tiptoed past the sleeping tent of my friends along the long path to the box, made a small fire and then coffee, which I tended as night turned to dawn over these still waters. How the silence of these early hours quiets me, the calmness of these pre-dawn waters stills me, and I find myself centered somewhere deeper within myself than I have been.

It can be quite difficult to marry the rhythms of four persons. Then, inevitably, control and power struggles emerge- nitpicking disguised as advice, for instance. Each of our different ways begin to feel more like belligerent ‘one’ ways butting up against one another in competition, rather than complementing each other in cooperation. Fatigue and conflicting rhythms can lead to frustration and irritability.

Oh, I so wanted to be out on the water last night! I’d wanted to paddle all afternoon (our morning journey from Big Porcupine to here had been a mere hop, skip and jump) but by the time Don and I finally got out on the water, we had a mere 30 minutes –just long enough to slide our canoe over the ‘devil’s razor’ – before it was time to rush back for dinner before dark.  The thing that frustrated me most, I think, was that I suspect we ALL wanted to paddle, it was just the coordinating of our various rhythms (or shall I say, melodies? to play with this notion of harmony?) that proved to be troublesome. None of us wanting to take the lead, none of us wanting to leave the others alone in the chores, some of us more deliberate while others are more spontaneous, we spent a lot of time playing ‘hurry up and wait’. How might I be more mindful, more present and centered right in the midst of that ‘hurry and wait’?

Rising early like this, then, to be still – and to be alone in that stillness- is life giving for me. It helps me to quiet, to put things in perspective, to begin my day, not in a rush, but mindfully. Attentive to goodness.

My friend, like me, is also an early riser, likely for the quiet centering it brings to her also. I suspect that when she is here alone, she, like me, relishes the silence and solitude of this time and space. The quandary then is how to invite and allow her to fully inhabit this space without her feeling the need to be a ‘helpful servant’ when I rise to work on morning chores,  while at the same time not making it seem as if I must be central to the cooking chores.

Last evening, for instance, because I’d wanted to be on the water during those precious moments before dark, our friends cooked the dinner, for which I was grateful. I felt it only fair that Don and I would then take care of cleanup, allowing them the luxury of basking for a time. But they insisted on helping with cleanup, which created a strange sort of tension between us.

Oh, group dynamics. How to live in community without strife. How to love well… without judgment, without fear of judgment. It seems that all of our people pleasing scars come ripped open here, and I grow quickly fatigued by the constant vigilance and over accommodation, especially my own. That fuse in me is short. Perhaps it has been used up through this seeming lifetime of accommodating others.

Perhaps it is true that accommodation has a lot to do with conditioned codependency, but could it also be true that accommodation is a piece of hospitality? Making a welcoming space for another … with all of their quirks and wounds…in one’s heart?

7:30 am.

My friends and my spouse have now joined me over coffee, drinking in friendship and beauty together.


The day developed from that breathtaking dawn into a picture perfect morning. A sensuous paddle ensued as we intimately explored Bonnechere Lake from her chin to her toes, teasing our way down both of her arms, stopping to more intimately investigate a few campsites along the way and discovering the charming and hidden, Cradle Lake, where we lingered a while on a slip of land between the two bodies of water. I was rather enchanted by that site, with its natural boulder fireplace and foot trails leading up to lichen and moss covered overlooks, and hope to land there again one day, if not on this trip.

The wind picked up quite a bit after lunch for our paddle back to camp, making it a bit more strenuous, but exhilarating too. By late afternoon, it was downright blustery on our granite outcropping, though shelter was to be found on the east side of the cliff, facing the quieter bay. For some time, I wandered about in the marsh behind the bay, which was quite satisfying to me.

Much later, after dinner and cleanup (during which our friends at last took advantage of our offer and went out for an evening paddle) Don and I cuddled together in a warm, intimate nook tucked into the side of that granite ledge, our satiated faces reflecting the setting sun. The night was growing quite cold by the time we watched the clear sky explode with stars, our first starry night of this trip, the Milky Way painting her broad sweeping swath overhead as we laid back to drink in her artistry.

Friendships were deepened and tensions were eased again today, as we grow more comfortable with both ourselves and one another. Those rhythms that had gotten a bit out of sync reestablished themselves today and the right balance of solitude and community, silence and conversation, autonomy and mutuality emerged again.

A wise woman once shared with me that balance is never static, as we like to imagine it is when we use the word, but is fluid and dynamic and sometimes veers way off center before correcting itself with a counter movement.  Perhaps harmony is more like a canoe, heeled to the rails, making a grace-full turn, each paddler leaning and reaching just enough, before setting her back on her more even keel



2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: revisiting | Emmaatlast's Weblog
  2. Trackback: holy – Wherein vicki realizes that Weariness makes her Irritable and Sunshine brings her Life. | Emmaatlast's Weblog

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