Sunday, July 4, 2010.
I travel up to Trout Creek, the little town south of North Bay, with two women who are my friends. Shirley and Marilynn are intelligent, attractive, interesting females, the kind who turn heads for different reasons, the sort who have been through their careers, families (not always the traditional nuclear kind) and who have established a sense of self. We talk all the way: sharing what has transpired in our lives during the months between cottage trips. It’s an annual tradition for Marilynn and me, and as much of an annual as Shirley can manage. Time is irrelevant and appears to fly. We drive into Trout Creek. I am looking at the village with different eyes today: the eyes of a crime writer. I am experiencing it as I might experience Salmon Creek, my new fictional town. Not for the scenery so much as the feeling of a tiny place, where very little is happening on a warm Sunday, next to noon.
We stop in at TJ’s, the local restaurant and motel, and chow down on some mouthwatering BLT’s. Typically for a small town, it’s piled high with well-done bacon, crisp lettuce and tasty tomatoes. Wouldn’t be surprised to find a tomato patch in the back. I think of Scott, who is ill and can’t make the trip this year, growing up in this little thumb print of a place. He seems far too substantial for it. We are also missing Leslie this year, but hope she'll return in the future. It's not her cup of tea - it can't appeal to everyone and doesn't even try - but we do love her company.
We start up the winding road toward Lake Restoule and the little community that precedes it. Sparkling teasers of blue lake appear through the trees and I am filled with that lovely echo from childhood: I can see the water! We truly loved the lake when we were kids and I have not changed in that respect. Ocean, river, pond, lake, I love to sit and stare at you, listen to your gurgling or chuckling or roars of pleasure. When we reach the dock, our hosts are not there yet, so we dangle our feet in the clear brown water and bask in the sun. When Tanya and Grant arrive at the landing, we pile our belongings and offerings into their two crafts and shoot across the waves. This reminds me of white water rafting: the shock of how hard that liquid can be when it meets the bow of the boat. Up and over the waves, crashing back down, the wind in our hair. Incredible.
We are soon sitting on the screened-in deck with libations and munchies and the breeze cooling our brows. We tour the new out building: The Cabin (although Marilynn thinks it’s more aptly named The Suite), which has hot and cold running water, a shower, and a compost toilet that Grant and Tanya just fixed that very morning. Thus we are going to live in comfort amongst the trees and bush, thanks to solar panels and generators.
Tanya and Grant’s place is a former hunting lodge that they have transformed into a comfortable, beautiful spot. It’s still wilderness in a sense – no electricity – but with ingenuity and hard work, they’ve made it a paradise.
Late in the afternoon, we take a ride in Grant’s new cedar boat (new to him, old in that the craft is a classic) while he gives us a commentary on the history of the lake. Grant has been coming here since he was a boy; it’s where his heart resides, especially when his partner wife is with him. I enjoy the sun, wind, and water spray from my perch in the back seat. The tree line is magnificent, a green stack of branches and limbs.
Dinner is barbequed steak, potatoes and salad, all served up under candlelight on the porch. We laugh and talk and tip a few too many bottles of wine. If there is such a thing as too many, that is.
Monday, July 5.
It’s a hot, sultry day, the perfect kind of weather to be sitting on a lake. Grant and Tanya’s beautiful porch hovers over the shoreline, the waves right there, nearly close enough to touch. Their whispers and laps provide constant background music. We have egg mcmuffin-style breakfasts, courtesy of our hosts, and comment on the forty-degree humidity from the city news reports. We feel quite smug on this protected porch with the west wind humming through the trees. We read, write, do crosswords, talk, laugh. Tanya and I take a boat ride to return Grant to his city work. I sit in the bow of the boat, the wind whipping my hair, and I do feel like the Queen of the World.
We hold our annual scrabble tournament with relish. By the end of the day, all three of us are winners. I go for a swim off the dock. The water is cool at first, but silky and refreshing. We eat crackers and cheese and summer sausage and other goodies for snacks: we have chicken kabobs and salad for dinner.
We’re proud that we’ve been eating rather healthily – no bad snacks, no dessert. It’s funny; we are now at an age where health complaints have become a prime topic: we used to mock old ladies like us. We also discuss our histories, both shared and separate, former lovers, current loves, interests, religion, politics, and books we are reading. Marilynn and Shirley read my new novel in progress and give me their feedback.
“Our Rosie” is a story about elderly people, so I am anxious to get the “voice” just right. I don’t want it to be mocking, but I’m also trying to make it humorous. It’s a difficult balance. Not to mention trying to make murder funny. I find writing serious stuff easier than writing comedy. But Shirley says that so far, I have made the characters endearing, and I like that a lot.
Tuesday, July 6.
It’s a hot, hazy, breezy day on the porch. Tanya and I swim; Shirley tangles her feet. We all read, write, do crosswords and talk – all over again. The scrabble rubber match is won by yours truly. We think about going to the euchre tournament in Restoule village at the community centre. It sounds like an interesting adventure, but we all agree that the weather is far too lake-centred to go and sit in a potentially hot room playing cards. We’ve often gone on shopping trips to the craft stores in past years, but these particular summery days are just too perfect. Our wayward west wind continues to tickle and cool us. Our conversation is still interesting. So we stay.
I do some more outlining of the “Our Rosie” story. Shirley and I talk a lot about the writing process and publishing. She, Marilynn and Tanya are some of my great supporters (I am very fortunate to have a gang of those) and we discuss the industry, its foibles, the writers we love, the books that we didn’t admire. I question why I haven’t been able to acquire a commercial publisher, even though my readers (and reviewers) like my books. Shirley says she finds it incomprehensible. I wonder aloud if I haven’t spent enough time on the queries and the mailings. Gotta pile up more rejection slips. “Our Rosie”, I have decided, won’t see the light of day if she doesn’t acquire a traditional publisher.
The hours absolutely melt by: we are astonished when it’s dinnertime again. Hamburgers and salad are the fare this time. We all agree that nothing is better than a BBQ’d burger. Especially with Tanya as the BBQ mistress.
This night is the hottest for sleep, with very little breeze as the night closes in.
Wednesday, July 7.
We pack up and go home. It's my anniversary and my intuition is right: a dozen roses await me, along with (of course) Vince's arms and lips. I am not too tired, so we head out for dinner at our favorite restaurant, Fanzorelli's, and receive a wonderful surprise. Our very best friends, Maire and John, are there too, just by chance. What a great night.