Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Road (more or) Less Traveled

Earlier this month, we spent a few days up at the cottage. As would be expected from a Canadian October, the nights were cool and so were most of the days. Add clouds to that scenario and you'll understand that it wasn't exactly reminiscent of the summer days spent lounging comfortably in a rocking boat, waiting for the next fish to nibble the line. In fact, there were no boats readily available, so any fishing would have to be done from the dock. We had lines, bait, lures and a net ready for the hapless walleye who might sacrifice itself for dinner on any given night, but alas, there were none that ventured toward our hooks.

Yes, the summer was clearly over but the autumn air beckoned to share in its own adventure, and how could we refuse? The cooler, crisp air lent itself to other activities such as long walks, playing cribbage, building campfires, playing fetch with Benny and trying to keep warm - all of which we did semi-frequently.

Each morning, I found myself reluctant to leave a warm, cozy bed but Benny would awaken raring to go, testing the silent air with the sounds of his occasional whines. Since I was the only other conscious being in the cottage, I decided that it wouldn't hurt the two of us to take an hour-long hike along the hilly country roads. I left Frank a note, and with camera over my shoulder, we headed up the cottage path.

I kept Benny off leash just until we got close to the main road. Traffic was minimal (two cars an hour), but Benny doesn't always come when called and I wasn't willing to take any chances with him. (please click to enlarge)

On some mornings, sunlight filtered its way through the trees, rewarding us with occasional patches of warmth. (please click to enlarge)

If the sunlight hadn't warmed us, maneuvering the frequent rises and dips in the road saw to the task. Benny looks back at the hill we just climbed. There were many more just like it up ahead. (please click to enlarge)

One of our walks brought us to a lake about a mile or so up the road. Somewhere in the tree above, a squirrel scolds Benny for trying to chase after it. I was glad that I hadn't unleashed him. (please click to enlarge)

A view from the water's edge. The shoreline was sheltered from wind, and the temperature suddenly rose to that of an early summer's day. I peeled off a layer and sat for a few minutes, soaking up the beauty of this gem of a lake. Benny thankfully showed considerable patience - my reward for allowing him to stop and sniff at will along the way. (please click to enlarge)

Back at the cottage, Frank had awakened during our absence, and had a steaming hot cup of tea waiting for me. Benny had the Magic Wall waiting for him. Every time he heard the heater click on, he hopped up in this chair to bask in its warmth. (please click to enlarge)

Occasionally he'd straddle the chair and table so that he could warm his back end. (please click to enlarge)

The long walk and the relaxing heat made for one tired hotdog. (please click to enlarge)

Over at the dock we made a few half-hearted attempts to lure some unsuspecting fish. Mostly we just sat and enjoyed the morning while the worm did the work. (please click to enlarge)

In the water, a browned cedar frond floated in with the waves and washed up on the rocks. (please click to enlarge)

Nearby, a fresh growth of green foliage creates a vivid contrast against the wet rock below it. (please click to enlarge)

What is this strange spiraling object? It's not Benny furiously chasing his tail - he refuses to wear chartreuse. It's not a hummingbird going berserk or a dragonfly whirling out of control. Any guesses? (please click to enlarge)

It's a wet, spinning tennis ball after it's been bounced off of the dock. (please click to enlarge)

As the sun descends, its golden reflection is mirrored in the lake below. (please click to enlarge)

Time to bring in the rods for the night, and just sit back and enjoy the fire. (please click to enlarge)

On our last day, after locking up to head home, we discovered that we'd forgotten to add an overripe tomato to the already-sealed trash bag. As we left another fine time at the cottage behind, we stopped along the path to deposit the tomato in this tree stump where we'd left a partial watermelon the previous month. Our offering to the woodland creatures. (please click to enlarge)

Goodbye cottage. We'll see you again next year. (I'll bet you'd look beautiful in winter...)


Zuzana said...

Hilary, you take such moving photographs and your writing is sincere and poignant.
The nature surrounding the cottage seems so very pristine and tranquil.
It must have been a wonderful stay, for all of you, including Benny.;)

Tricia said...

Every time I see your cottage photos, I feel nostalgic for home. My family has a mountain cabin in Vermont where my husband, son, dogs and I often stay when we travel north to visit. The tree-lined roads look much like the roads in your photographs. Everything you captured seems so serene, and I just want to jump into the photographs and bask in that for a while!

Benny is hilarious!

Leah J. Utas said...

Benny looks like he's in Pure Puppy Bliss at his Magic Wall.

Gary's third pottery blog said...

We will meet you there next October, OK, please please please???????????????

the Bag Lady said...

I love the little mini-vacations I can take on your blog!
Benny looked so relaxed and blissful at his magic wall.

Anonymous said...

Benny reminds me of my little guy. Great photos as always. thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

As much as I've enjoyed our summer months at the lake, I'm really like Autumn too. I can't wait to see more color as the leaves turn. (We are going back again aren't we?? Silly question...)

Anonymous said...

Hmmm....blogger and I seem to be duking it out this morning. It didn't want me to talk to you and now it seems as though I have a secret identity!


Anonymous said...


It looks as if you are in such a sweet, peaceful season of life. I absolutely love the simple beauty in these posts of the cabin you have done. It so makes me long to get away from the city (or suburbs in my case) for awhile.

Benny is unquestionably in a fabulous season :).

Finally, the tennis ball really had me. Your camera must be a decent one! Good shot!

Suldog said...

Love the shot of the tennis ball!

Are walleye good eating? I've never had one.

photowannabe said...

This was a truly magical trip to your cottage. Each picture just made me want to be there more. I could hear the quiet and smell the woodsy earth. Ahhh pure contentment.
Your pic. of the tennis ball is something else. How did you do that? Great stuff Hillary.

Daryl said...

Wonderful photos .. my favorite is the fishing rod .. what a fabulous perspective!


Reb said...

Absolutely wonderful Hilary. I love the lake shot with the splash of red and the driftwood. The tennis ball is very cool and Benny with his magic wall is adorable.

Anonymous said...

Terrific photos as usual, and Benny & his magic wall make me smile.
Thanks for bringing us along for the trip! Next time, I'll bring the hot cocoa and s'more fixings!

blunoz said...

I echo all the previous sentiments about both your wonderful photography and prose. It makes me look forward to going back to our favorite place on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire next summer.

Chica, Cienna, and Cali said...

what a beautiful time u had....loved all that green that took you to the lake and benny warming his rear was howl-arious!!!!! :)

Pat - Arkansas said...

Thanks for another fabulous stroll and mini-vacation. It's always such a pleasure to visit. Benny gets cuter and cuter; the photos of him and the Magic Wall are priceless. I love the one of him warming his backside!

I can't imagine that the cottage area could be any more beautiful in winter than it was in these photos. Just differently beautiful.

Hilary said...

* Thanks kindly, Protege. The cottage area is indeed wonderful. It'll be a long winter, methinks. Thanks very much for your kind words. :)

* Thank for stopping by, Tricia. Vermont and Southern Ontario are pretty much alike as far as that goes. You're welcome to hop inside these pics anytime. There'll be wine waiting for you. ;)

* You've got that right, Leah! Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Gary, Benny says you MUST bring Penny! Thanks for the visit. :)

* Thanks, Baggie. I'm glad you enjoyed it. Benny was indeed in doggie bliss. :)

* Thanks for the kind words, M.. and for stopping by. :)

* Thanks, Patsy. I believe there'll be more autumn colours to share, but not from the cottage. Thanks so much for the visit. :)

* Pssst, the rooster crows at dawn, Susansmusings. ;) (I guess that was you, Patsy???)

* Thanks so much for the kind words, MT. Very sweet observations. And Benny is in his season and element anytime, anyplace anyhow! Thanks for the visit. :)

* Thanks, Sully. I'm glad you liked it. Walleye is absolutely delicious. If you like fish, I have no doubt you'd love walleye. Especially when Frank cooks it. If you and YOUR WIFE are ever up this way, we'll be sure to put it on the menu. :)

* Thanks so much for the kind words, Photowannabe. The tennis ball was achieved in a VERY technical manner. Frank kept bouncing it, and I kept snapping shots until I had a couple of good ones. ;)

* Thanks so much Daryl, I'm glad you liked it. :)

* Thanks very much, Reb. Benny is such a clown, eh? I'm glad you liked the photos.. thanks for stopping by. :)

* Thanks, KC. I love the way you pack for the cottage... good thinking! Thanks for the visit and for your kind words. :)

* Thank you, Blunoz. New Hampshire is a beautiful state. All of New England is pretty wonderful. Thanks for stopping by. :)

* Thanks, Moi. "Howlarious".. too funny! I'm glad you liked the photos. Thanks for the visit. :)

* Thank you, Pat. You're right, of course about the cottage. Each season gives it its own look. I've just never seen it in winter. Thanks for your kind words. I'm glad you liked the photos of the little goofball. :)

Frank Baron said...

Great shots Hil. I'll likely revisit them from time to time as winter drags on. :)

Sandi McBride said...

Talk about getting away from it all! I'm surprised you didn't fight Benny for the magic wall!!!
Beautiful wonders, thanks for sharing...I'd be waxing poet and singing Robert Goulet's If ever I would leave you,lol

Suzanne said...

Hilary, your photos are gorgeous and draw me right in to the scene, but I must talk about Benny! I have a dog named Dino who is Benny's twin. I did a double take when I saw your pics. Right down to the brown polka dots on his pink tummy. What a cutie pie!

RiverPoet said...

Gorgeous photos, as always. And Bennie is adorable. I have a friend whose 14-year-old Lab mix always hogs the heater vents. She'll be freezing, but Raven will be warm as toast.

Peace - D

G said...

Sigh... another beautiful post featuring your gorgeous photography. I love the shots of Benny warming himself... he's a wonderful dog! Thank you for sharing your last cottage visit of the year with us.

Michelle H. said...

You have wonderful the pictures, then you add the right kind of words that can be so moving. Great post!

Russell said...

Here it is Saturday and I am just seeing this post! What a wonderful trip you took us on! I can almost smell and hear everything as I walk along with you and Benny and Frank!

The photo showing Frank and the fire reminds me a great deal of works done by Terry Redlin. Redlin is a VERY popular wildlife artist from South Dakota.

In the last 20 years or so most of his works have a "glow" in them - most always a fire just like the one in your photograph. I own a few of his early prints that do not have a glow feature - and my guess is that the addition of a fire or sunset or some other light feature really enhanced the marketability of his work!

Thanks for a great tour of some truly beautiful country.

This may sound a bit strange but you know what I liked the most in all these images? The road. I love the road. Two cars an hour sounds just about right...!

david mcmahon said...

Must visit that cottage next time I'm in your amazing country, Hilary.

Michele said...

A very nice post... I loved how Benny was flopped into the chair looking so pooped out... he looked adorable.

Jennifer S said...

I love your photos...these made me long for some simple, quiet time away. Beautiful.

Dianne said...

benny and the magic wall!!

I had a cat, Sheba, who would lie down across the radiator!! I asked the vet what would happen when she got too hot - his response - "she'll move" ;)

the cedar frond is stunning

and the red tips of the trees

and of course benny looking back at the hill and up at the squirrel.

Elizabeth said...

These photographs are just amazing!!! Thanks for letting us all see them.


Dave said...

Wow, what a lot of comments, and I agree with all of them. loved these two photos especially - the spinning ball and the campfire by the lake. Your words made me feel like I was there. Thanks. - Dave

Jo said...

Hilary, that reminds me of the lake where I grew up on Vancouver Island, Sproat Lake. It is exactly like that, and as much as I loved summers there, my favorite time was autumn.

Your blog is so Canadian. *heh* Wonderful...!

Hilary said...

• Thanks, Frank but I think you'll be too busy feeding the birds and squirrels all winter to think about it much. :)

• LOL, Sandi... it wouldn't be in autumn.. ;) I did in fact fight Benny for the chair by the magic wall on occasion. He settled for my lap. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Suzanne. It's hard to imagine another Benny! Is your Dino as nutso as Ben? I'd love to see some pics sometime. Thanks for the visit and for your kind words. :)

• Thanks, Riverpoet. It's amazing what we sacrifice for our pets.. and Benny isn't even mine! Thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks kindly, Blog Princess G. I'm glad you liked the post and that you're enjoying Benny. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks very much for your kind words, MLH.. much appreciated. :)

• Russell, thank you for your always kind and thoughtful comments. I had never heard of Terrry Redlin, but just looked up some of his artwork, and I see what you mean about the glow in his paintings. They're quite lovely. I'm glad you liked the road photos. I spent several hours walking them with Benny, and these photos really don't do them justice. Thanks for the visit. :)

• David, be sure to let us know when you plan to return. I especially love your photos of places I know. :)

• Thanks muchly, Michele.. Benny poops us out more than his own self. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Jennifer. I wish you a quite holiday of your own sometime soon. :)

• LOL, Dianne. A simple solution to the heat-seeking kitty concern. Animals, of course, are smarter than we often give them credit for. I'm glad you liked the photos. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Welcome, Elizabeth and thanks for the kind words and for stopping by. :)

• Thanks kindly, Dave. I'm glad you liked the photos and enjoyed the post. Thanks always for visiting. :)

• Thanks, Jo. I'm glad my blog gets your "Canadian, eh?" endorsement. ;) I'm also happy that the photos evoked a fond memory for you. As always, I appreciate your kind words. :)

Country Girl said...

Oh, so beautiful! I am in awe of your cottage. Loved the shot with the fire going in the evening. Too cool!!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

Nature! Benny! Autumnal Delights!

This post has it all!

Anonymous said...

I am not able to decide what is better, your photos or your writing. :)

Anonymous said...

Hilary, even being a very lousy visitor I must say that everytime I come here I just keep there staring and staring ... wow ... in this case, reading your words was great, but seing the photos just made me think "man, I must have died and wakened up in Paradise!"

Indrani said...

Fabulous shots! You sure did have a good time. Thanks for sharing!

Saz said...

AMAZING images, well done, l shall be back very soon..

Shrinky said...

My goodness Hilary, that is an INCREDIBLE shot of the spinning tennis ball. Some breathtaking photography here, and the way you have of walking with us through it brings us right there in the moment with you.

My favourite shots have to be of Benny though, next to his "magic wall". Simply delightful!

Anonymous said...

Absolutely lovely to be walking with you in such spectacularly beautiful scenery. Do you live on Golden Pond, I was expecting Henry Fonda and Hepburn to go jiggling by.

Darling Benny, what a wonderland for him.

Kerri Farley said...

A beautiful post Hilary! You should write a book about the cottage and Benny...and Frank, too of course :) I never get tired of reading about your time there.

Merisi said...

Thank you, Hilary, for this wonderful minivacation you shared with us, and thanks to David, for sending me over here. I enjoyed your photos and Benny made me laugh out loud more than once! :-)

Congratulations on winning a s pot on David's "Post of the Day" list!

steviewren said...

Your time at the cabin sounds like heaven. So relaxing. So inviting. Please invite me.....

Hilary said...

• Thank you, Kate. I'm glad you like them and that things are going better in your world. :)

• Thanks, EWBL.. what else could there possibly be? ;)

• Thanks kindly, Cuckoo. What a nice thing to say. :)

• Aww thanks, FP but you're absolutely not a lousy visitor - you're one of the best. Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thank you, Indrani. Much appreciated. :)

• Welcome, FF&F and thanks for your kind words. I do hope you'll return again soon. :)

• Thanks very much, Shrinky. I'm glad you enjoyed the photos and got a kick out of Benny. Thanks for the visit. :)

• Thank you for the kind words, Moannie. I'm not sure about On Golden Pond, but every place is a Wonderland for Benny. ;) Thanks for stopping by. :)

• Thanks, Kerri. I think Frank's got that book covered - about Benny and walking and other good stuff, but thanks for the kind words. :)

• Thanks very much, Merisi. I appreciate your very kind words. Benny really is a clown, eh? Thanks also to David for sending such fine folks my way. :)

• You're not kidding about how relaxing it is. I wish it was my place to go as I please.. but alas, you'll have to get that invite from Frank... I'll work on him... shhh. ;)

carmilevy said...

Your photography is stunningly evocative, and your dog makes my heart melt.

Looks like I've found a new compelling read. And another Ontarian, too!

Anonymous said...

wait - that's not the same squirrel from the Goat's Lunch Pail, is it?!

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Carmi and thanks for your very kind words. Benny is only mine on the weekends when Frank visits but I'll be happy to take some credit for his heart-melting ways. ;) Thanks for the visit from nearby London. Please return soon :)

• LOL, Weighting Game. I hope not. No creature should have THAT much endurance. Ontario is just a tad too far from Alberta. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Louise said...

I am SOOO bummed! As I was reading, my comment was forming in my head. Something to the effect that I can hardly WAIT to take a winter walk with you there. It is just too hard to get to in winter? Are the roads closed?

I'm so happy for the last look this fall. I can experience it through you. Those long walks, the warmth by the lake, the heater in the wall (which Benny would have to share with me!) is all so enchanting.

Hilary said...

Thanks, Louise. From what I understand, the roads are kept clear in winter but aside from that little heater on the wall and one other plug-in system, the place is not winter-ready. The water is also turned off until spring, so it wouldn't be the comfiest stay, though I'm sure it's been done. This winter, you'll just have to join me on local walks instead. :)

Chuck Pefley said...

Love the way Benny takes advantage of the central heating :)

Hilary said...

• Welcome, Chuck. Yes, Benny takes advantage of many things. He's a wise pup. Thanks for stopping by. :)