Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tales of the Unexpected

When we decided to spend an extended weekend at the cottage in mid-October, I had anticipated a few things.

I figured the weather would be cool and crisp, and that the foliage which was just beginning to show its brilliance in September would cover the ground entirely, rather than cling to the trees. I expected there would still be running water, so that a hot shower would warm us after a shivery walk or a blustery morning spent fishing off the dock. I also thought that I might not have enjoyed this visit as much as I did in September, if some of the discomforts weighed in with the luxuries. But I was wrong.

As the weekend neared, I was pleased to see that the forecast had called for unseasonably warm weather. We arrived late Thursday afternoon to overcast skies and temperatures of 20C (68F). As if a balance needed to be struck, we unlocked the door and discovered with great disappointment that the water had indeed been turned off for the winter. We brought plenty of bottled water for drinking and teeth-brushing but the absence of running water would suggest no showers, hot or otherwise, and no sink-washed dishes. We considered just staying a night or two, but figured we'd decide later as the weekend evolved.

As it turned out we stayed the full four nights as originally planned, and wished it could have been longer. It was four days filled with the wonderfully unexpected.

Unexpected Tale #1

The woods were alive with colour.

As if balmy October days weren't joyful enough, the trees that greeted us throughout the trip and at the cottage were actually at their peak.

The blue sky and reflecting lake water enhanced the vibrant yellows, oranges and reds, and the already-discarded leaves blanketed the roads and pathways, all adding to the visual wonder that is autumn.

Unexpected Tail #2

Jack Russell Terriers are valiant wave-killers.

Benny's greatest enjoyment was spent at the lake's shoreline watching, taunting and attacking the waves as they rolled in. His tenacity kept him biting at them for hours, every day.

Which one will give up first, the wind, or the JRT? Benny's vigor nearly outlasted the wind. And the smell of perpetually-wet dog will quite possibly outlast his energy.

Unexpected Tale #3

Food preparation, dish-washing and even bathing outside in the October air was fun. Yes, fun!

Day two warmed up by a couple of degrees, but became rainy and windy. Since the plumbing was unavailable, we had four options. 1) Really rough it and skip the shower completely. Nuh-uh. This city mouse wanted to be squeaky clean. 2) Wash up in the lake.

The days might have been warm, but the water still knew it was October. That's much too cold - for me anyway. 3) Go home. Not a chance! It was just too lovely in every other way to allow it to end over empty pipes. 4) Find a hotel room to rent for a half-hour and shower there. Yeah, right! 5) Heat up some lake water on the stove, strip down and wash up outside.

We chose door number five. I felt like a kid shivering out in the autumn downpour, allowing the rain to soak me so that I could work up enough lather for a good scrub. A bucket of heated rinse water helped dissipate the goosebumps, and a dry, fluffy towel became my new best friend.

Similarly, without running water, we became semi-frequent visitors of the outhouse, complete with its crescent moon and star-shaped, cut-out windows.

Unexpected Tale #4

It poured all day on Friday. We fished a bit, and played cards, read and even watched some television. All helped to pass the time spent mostly cooped up indoors. By afternoon, it was still raining.

It might have been the large box of colourful wax crayons that triggered a nostalgic tug, or perhaps it was the Mojitos that fueled a general feeling of well-being, but I began leafing through one of the colouring books that I found in a nearby pile.

Before I knew it, we were in the screened-in porch, crayons strewn across the table, and tongues peeking out of the corners of our mouths just like children, as we coloured the puerile images on the page. Maturity is so overrated.

Unexpected Tale #5

We fully expected to see the typical loons, ducks and fish in the cool waters of the lake during our visit, but unaccustomed eyes did a double-take when curiosity drew some unusual critters close to the dock. I was in the cottage when I heard "Come here. Hurry! And bring the camera. Quickly!" I rushed out to the dock to see three otters frolicking around in the water.
My hurried presence must have made them a bit nervous because they immediately began to swim away.

Unfortunately, the only photo I managed to capture of one of them was blurry and out of focus. I missed the best part of their show, but it was an unexpected treat nonetheless.

Unexpected Tale #6

In nearby Cloyne, right across the street from the famous Curry Hut, there's a convenience store that sells the best raspberry butter tarts I've ever tasted. If the truth be known, I've never tasted any others but if I had, I'm sure these would still win out. They're hauntingly delicious and we decided to make a trip into town and stock up on some of those scrumptious delights. Only our water situation was more of a disappointment than learning that the local bakery had mechanical troubles that week, and were unable to stock the local stores with their baked goods. We decided to make the best of the day by exploring the area, allowing the road to take us in new directions.

Among the many visual treats was this lovely vista, which greeted us as we reached the apex of a mountainous road.

On our way back, we pulled over to capture this photo. The whimsical colours of the fence caught my eye, and my fancy.

Unexpected Tale #7

At the end of a mostly-overcast day, the clouds broke open just long enough to allow a sliver of sunlight to spill across the sky.

The skies continued to clear up overnight, providing us with record high temperatures for our final day and a half spent at the cottage.

Our last night there was warm and clear, and the setting sun ignited the sky and grew more colourful by the moment.

By the time we left to go home on Monday, the thermometer had climbed to 25C (77F) - almost unheard of for mid-to-late October.

Since returning home, I've certainly enjoyed reacquainting myself with long, hot showers and dry, unsmelly cats, but I also miss the surroundings we've left behind.

Should the opportunity to return arise anytime soon, I think I'd jump at the chance to spend more time there. But if it's during the winter, I might just opt for door number four.

You can see some more photos and read about this weekend from Frank's perspective over at his always-entertaining blog.


Tink said...

Those photos are awesome! I miss the fall colors so much. That video of your dog was cracking me up. My male Rat Terrier (almost like a Jack) is such a chicken shit.

Reb said...

Oh, too bad you spooked the Otters! Love the video, my standard poodle used to chase snow off of the shovel. Made it difficult to move snow, as he would try to get it while the shovel was headed right for him!

Great pictures as usual, sounds like a fun time. Colouring Books and alcohol go great together!

Hilary said...

Thanks, Tink.

This autumn has been particularly nice, especially out where we were. The dog isn't mine - I just sorta borrow him occasionally.


That sure would add an element of difficulty to snow-shoveling. Thanks for reminding me that winter is coming! I think I'll just go pour a drink and find my crayons.

the Bag Lady said...

The Bag Lady is really looking forward to seeing the photos, but Real Life keeps interferring with the downloading today...maybe later. She's already jealous, though, because all the leaves have been gone here for at least a week...

Frank Baron said...

Ha! So much for dogs being a reflection of their owner! I'm way too smart to be biting at waves.

They need to be smacked with a shovel.

photowannabe said...

Awesome photos Hilary. You make me jealous seeing your cottage and your chance to play pioneer. Its great stuff and the ingredients for making lifelong memories.

Crabby McSlacker said...

Wow, beautiful pictures! And that video is hilarious.

thanks so much for sharing these!

(and sorry to be so boring today--must need more caffeine or something.)

Hilary said...

Bag Lady,

We've managed to talk you into a blog of your own.. now we need to convince you that you need a better internet connection. I guess you don't have a lot of choice out in the wilderness though. I'm just glad you manage whichever way you can. :)


So do certain dog owners... ;)

Hi Photowannabe,

Thanks for your kind words but the cottage isn't mine. Like the dog, it's on loan occasionally. I'm glad you enjoyed the pics.

Thanks Crabby,

Benny cracks me up too. I'm glad you liked it. And you're never boring, which is why everyone enjoys your own blog so much. Thanks for stopping by.

Kappa no He said...

Absolutely beautiful! And I think I'm in love with that puppy dog!

Hilary said...

Thanks Kappa No He,

You're not alone. Benny has a lot of people quite smitten with him. Thanks for visiting. :)

Virginia Lee said...

I wouldn't believe the photo at the apex of the hill is real but for the road at the bottom of the shot. It looks like a wonderful painting once you are past the lake. It's glorious!

Also, I too am a Benny the dawg fan. He's awesome.

Finally, you have unsmelly cats? You are lucky. I had one we named 'Tinker which was really Stinker but with an apostrophe. Stinkiest cat in the universe, was he. :D

the Bag Lady said...

If I ever sell enough CartSmart bags to finally break even, the first thing I'll spend the profits on is a high-speed connection so I can keep up with all you city folk! In the meantime, I'll just keep playing catch-up...sigh.

Hilary said...

Virginia Lee,

That view was amazing - a car-stopper, and the photo still doesn't do it justice.

I'm glad you're enjoying Benny Russell Terror. I suspect you'll be seeing and reading more about him in the future.

And yup, I've never had a smelly cat, but then again I've never had an outdoor cat. I think that makes a difference. :)

Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words.

Bag Lady,

Fine, we'll just keep reminding you every now and then.. it worked for your blog. ;)

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you had such an unexpectantly wonderful time. Beautiful pics and Benny is too cute for words!

Anonymous said...

Pictures like yours make me want to always live where there are real season changes.

DJ Samba said...

Such gorgeous photos! It's weekends like that that just make you forget everything that's going on in The Real World. I could do with one of them about now.

I want to go away :(

Hilary said...


Thanks for the kind words.. Benny thanks you too.


As much as I'd like to be in a warm climate all year round, I think I'd miss the distinct season changes.. except maybe winter. ;) Thanks for stopping by.

Thank you, Leah. :)

DJ Samba,

Thank you! I hope you can manage a mini-vacation in your near future. They do make a difference. Thanks for stopping by,

Anonymous said...

Holy Screaming OdoUrless Kat Krap you Kunning Kanuckian Kandid Kamera and Krayon Konnoisseur !!!!!!!
You actually coloUred inside the lines!! Wow .. I am SO proud of you!!

I would brag about your talents with that cheapie camera you have, but I won't. Wouldn't want to contribute to a case of "big head" over those great shots ... hahaha

As usual .. HUGEEEEE hugzzzz

C yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!

Hilary said...


"Krayon Konnoisseur?" As always you WAX poetic. Thanks for the Kind Kompliments you Amazing Amurikan... Krazy Kowboy... Terrific Texan..

OK. I'm all out of alliteration. Thanks for stopping by and hugs right back at you! :)

Anonymous said...

Benny is adorable! I love the way he attacks the waves. Your pictures wonderful, I'm thinking we both inherited Dad's love of photography. What he could have done with a digital camera!

Hilary said...

Hiya "Ando" ;)

Yup, I agree. Dad would have had fun playing with a digital camera. Thanks for checking it out, Andi.