Sunday, September 30, 2007

Just a Little of That Human Touch

There's something endearing about the small towns that are nestled in the heart of the Ontario countryside.

Generally, they're more colourful, warm and inviting than what I'm used to in my daily city life. Rural populations are small, so you don't usually find the kind of specialized shops and boutiques that larger towns have. The stores are often a curious mix of products and services squeezed together to make optimum use of space. It's not unusual to find a single place that sells clothes, magazines, coffee, bait, gasoline and baked goods.

Similarly, the countryside offers an entrancing blend of natural scenery contrasted with man-made articles and structures. A wild frontier tamed by the human touch.

On our way up to the cottage for the weekend, we stopped at a small, colourful cafe in a very pretty town. Business was slow, and hopeful eyes spotted us on our way in the door. A quick scan revealed a brightly-decorated room. There were no other customers, which evoked a pang of guilt since we were only stopping by to find a washroom. We ordered coffee to go. The place was clean and neat, and we made a note and a promise to come back sometime. I snapped this shot of the back wall before leaving.

In the town of Cloyne, Ontario, there's a closed-down, out-of-business hotel and eatery called Land O' Lakes - not so unusual in itself for a place in this locale, but rather than the usual country cuisine that one would expect, this place once specialized in CanadAsian cuisine. If you were to peek through their restaurant windows, you'd see a perplexing array of exotic, Oriental decor combined with forty year-old Western European culture. The most striking of this eclectic collection was the sprinkling of Asiatic artifacts throughout the room, and portraits of three of the four Beatles (John Lennon was missing) peering over them from the surrounding walls.

Just outside of the building, on the edge of the parking lot, this hut once offered their customers an unlikely take-out option.

Once we were at the cottage, I found myself waking up early each day that we spent there. It probably had something to do with my eyes being greeted by the subtle morning hues which painted the lake - a promise of a beautiful sunrise approaching. The morning kept that promise every day. Facing southwest. the lake gave us dazzling displays of the setting sun, but densely-populated trees did not allow for a glimpse of the rising sun until it was fairly high in the sky.

One neighbour's property is just a three-minute walk up the path, however it's a lengthier few-mile ride along the coastline by boat, as the land between the cottages juts out considerably. This near-and-distant cottage sits on a bay facing east, allowing for a full view of the sunrise. This is where I parked myself and my camera each morning, feeling quite grateful that the owners were not occupying their cottage that weekend.

This swing at the edge of the sparkling water swayed gently in the wind, calmly waiting to be reunited with a young child.

Nearby, that same subtle breeze was not enough to encourage this flag to unfold and billow. Its still reflection relaxes in the water below.

On the other side of their cottage, a little cast-iron character sits gathering cobwebs, as if to attest to the truth of a fisherman's patience. The sun lit the surrounding area so intensely, that I found myself snapping several shots of this subject each morning. I posted one image last week. Two more are below.

Later in the day, a wheelbarrow was used to gather wood for a fire. Here, its rusting tray and red frame lean up against a tree before being put to work.

Having only spent a few days at the cottage, we didn't need to do any laundry, but the colourful clothespins clipped to the line reminded me of how long it had been since I have hung clothes outside to dry. For several decades, I've either lived in apartments or in a city with a by-law disallowing clothes lines. No matter how nicely a fabric softener or dryer sheet may smell, they can't beat the scent of fresh air-dried laundry. The clothespins sat empty throughout the weekend but their bright colours appealed to me. I'm easily amused.

Very easily amused.

Sigh! Dinner on the dock. It's one of my all-time favourite ways to enjoy a meal. Barbecued pork kebobs with fresh Tzatziki sauce, and tossed salad made the perfect end-of-summer meal. Served with an ice-cold beer or glass of wine, how could it possibly be better?

With a sunset. Here the lake reflects the contrails left by passing planes.

The nights spent up at the cottage were clear and bright. The moon was near-full, allowing us to see the distant silhouettes of the shoreline, long after the sun disappeared below the horizon. The air was cool but comfortable, and countless stars lit up the night sky. We could easily find the Big Dipper and other less-distinctive constellations.

Each night we lit a fire, and settled in as the slight chill in the air warmed to its flame. The end of a perfect day.

I'll post again in a few days, with the last of my photos taken that weekend.


Frank Baron said...

Great pics! They give this viewer the eerie sense of actually being there!

I absolutely love those general stores you mentioned. Can't beat grabbing a Dr. Pepper and a couple dozen worms from the same cooler.

I like that statue of the boy fishing. A lot. Hope nobody, you know...steals it. I wonder how heavy it is? Think it would maybe fit in, oh, I don't know - a wheelbarrow?

Frank Baron said...

Forgot to mention that I like your new profile pic. Who took it?

Hilary said...


You wouldn't be suggesting stealing it would you now? Opening comments about one anothers blog pics are one thing ( :P ), but personal property? I'm shocked!

I think we could fit it in the cooler...

My photo was taken by none other than the Great Swami Pastrami. Ever hear of him?

Anonymous said...

Hilary, I really like your new blog photo - makes you look much I really feel like an old bag...
Also really like the photos on your blog, except, as I said before, I have dial-up, so I still haven't seen all of them! (far too impatient to wait for them to load). Exactly where is the statue of the little guy fishing? He would look just as cute (or even cuter) on the edge of our dug-out... But it would be a long trip with a wheelbarrow.

Reb said...

Wonderful pictures! I didn't get a chance to sit around a fire this year, :( so thank you for including that.

General store are so much fun, you can find so many interesting things there.

Love the new photo of you too!

Hilary said...

Bag Lady,

Thanks for the compliment, but no way are you an old bag. You're a mere sandwich baggie! Too bad you have an old bag of a dial-up though.

The little fishing guy is on the neighbouring property of the cottage I was visiting. Shhh.. I was trespassing when I took those pics. Perhaps we could just wheel Frank out to fish at the edge of that dug-out instead.


Well thanks so much! I agree about the general stores - they are fun. I'm glad you enjoyed the fire.. I hope you found the hot dogs that were left for you.

Reb said...

Mmmm and they were sooo good too, thanks!

awannabe said...

Your words paint pictures in and of themselves. I love your descriptions.

And my favorite photos are the ones of the clothespins and leaves.


Hilary said...


Anytime! ;)


Thank you so much. That means a lot to me.

Kristophe Dumasis said...

you had me with the kebabs :)

Hilary said...

Thanks, Tophey. I haven't had breakfast yet. That nudged me to do so. :)