We’re having a different sort of summer. No socials at our old school, no Canada Day hotdogs, no sharing garden, flowers, beach and sand with friends from away. But the weather has been beautiful and the garden is ship-shape, so setting aside unhelpful negative feelings, my friends and I book a cottage near Murray Harbour which, on the Island, is as far away from home as we can get.
Here’s what we love about our Forest and Stream Cottage on the Fox River Road: screened-in porch, sharp kitchen knives, comfortable beds, a millpond complete with canoe on the South River, no noise other than birdsong and the gentle whisper of trembling aspens. In early morning we launch the canoe and paddle a kilometer upstream until we meet another world of cattails and marshland. We pause to admire the reflection of white birch trunks on calm black water, when—whoosh! An enormous owl swoops down and disappears into the treetops: then blue jays explode from forest squawking their hearts out. Owl (great horned owl?) briefly appears with breakfast in his beak (baby bluejay?) and is seen no more. Silence returns.
Mid-morning we hop on bikes, and a five-minute uphill ride brings us to the Rail Trail’s wonderland of Queen Anne’s lace (wild carrots), ox-eye daisies, vetch and chicory. On either side of the trail are thousands of fallen trees, souvenirs from the visit of Hurricane Dorian. Detouring down a sandy road we arrive at the lovingly tended Murray Harbour Pioneer Cemetery, where half the graves are of children and infants. What happened in the late 1800s? Were there no doctors? No midwives? How did people stand it? Our ancestors had challenges equal to any of those we face today.
Fish and chips at Harbourview Take-out (golden delicious), shore walk at Beach Point (rocky), toe-dip in Guernsey Cove (chilly)… enough fun! Duty beckons and we head home through the hills of Bellevue and Caledonia with spectacular vistas on every side.
We’re glad to get back to the Cove—two days away feels like weeks—but oh dear, the potato beetles are still “having relationships.” Potato beetles go from egg to adult in 21 days, and there can be three or four generations in one growing season… sigh. So it’s squish, hunt, squish until we can with clear consciences settle down with a gin and tonic.
Then it’s time for a swim. The tide is out and families have congregated at the shore. (Social distancing is no problem: there’s more than enough space for everyone.) Long-suffering parents laden with beach paraphernalia claim every sandbar; while sun-baked pirates and mermaids splash about in tidal pools collecting hermit crabs and moonsnails. There’ll be plenty of sand in the sheets tonight!
It’s a beautiful moment that I wish I could share with my loved ones; but really, my cup of happiness is overflowing already, so I think I’ll just sit here on the grassy slope and drink in the beauty of the moment.