The little voices are at it again, one insisting I apply my tax rebate against a bank loan, the other crying out, “Don’t be stupid! You’re 66! Rent a car, hit the road, and don’t come back till the money’s gone!” After some initial indecision, common sense prevails and, within days, I’m heading north in a rented Toyota. (July 2007)

Auntie Jean and

Uncle Boris live high above the shores of Haliburton’s Lake Kashagawigamog and are my first stop. Jean, eight years my junior, is my mother’s half-sister (same father, different mother). She is a native Haliburton and met Boris after he sold his pharmacy business in Toronto and moved to that area in the mid 90s. Having a nephew my age has not been easy for  Boris.

This is Uncle Henry, Jean’s younger brother. Henry doesn’t wear pants but has the decency, in company, to cover himself with a hat. He and his wife, Pat, are visiting from Lindsay. That’s Pat in the blue dress standing with Jean. These shots were taken the morning after a big party Jean threw in and around a neighbour’s barn to celebrate both Henry’s 50th and her friend Sue’s 60th. For the 100 or so partiers, there was booze enough for 150, food enough for 300, horses to pet, slides to watch, an electric fence to avoid, and a first-rate band to listen and dance to. I left the picture-taking to others who, as far as I know, took none.

Here’s another shot of Uncle Boris, and one of Joyce, who lives with Jean’s eldest of three sons, Tom. Though currently living and working elsewhere, Joyce and Tom grew up locally and plan to return. To this end, they’ve recently bought land in the area and are building a house.

My son Dave and family (wife, Louise, and daughters, Marina and Tara) have a cottage on Redstone Lake, about a half-hour drive from Boris and Jean’s. I drop by for a beer and a chat on Saturday afternoon. The girls have invited a friend for the weekend. Life is good.

Looking at photos of myself these

days is like looking at pictures of what

I’ll look like when I’m old.

Monday noon, I set off for Meaford. Before leaving Toronto, I’d promised a Collingwood friend, Ginny, that, on my way through town, I’d drop by for a visit, which I do, then continue on to my destination, arriving late afternoon.

My longtime friends, Ron and Ruthann Noble, who are providing a place to stay, aren’t around and I learn from a mutual friend that they’re attending some out-of-town function and won’t be back till later. I learn at the same time that it’s Sunday, not Monday—that I’m a day early—which explains Ginny’s puzzling remark about not expecting me till the next day.

As it turns out, my early arrival isn’t a problem. Having not yet made up the bed in the cabin, Ruthann simply hands me an armload of bedding and I make it up myself. For her, so busy with other things, my showing up early has lightened the load a little.

I’m pleased to have been assigned the cabin. It’s located on the south edge of the property roughly adjacent to their cottage which, in the top photo, is just out of sight to the left. Ron’s a bit of a pack rat so the cabin has been doubling as a storage shed and opening its door can be like throwing open a door at locker auction. But it has a bed. That’s all I care about.

These days, Ron and Ruthann are living at their house in town but, every chance they get, are here at the cottage painting and otherwise preparing for their grandson’s christening here on July 14th. Ron says I needn’t feel obliged to pitch in and, for the most part, I take him at his word.

Ron and I have been friends since 1945, the year he and his parents moved into the middle of three units in the Lakeshore Apartments, a single-storey, red-brick building across the creek from where I lived with my grandparents at the north end of Meaford. Ron was 4 at the time and I was 5. Though he and Ruthann have recently sold their longtime home in Fergus and moved to Meaford, Ron continues, for now, to maintain his criminal law practice in Guelph, so is usually home only on weekends. They have owned this cottage on Kiowana Beach for over 35 years.

Their son, Andrew, (below, on the cabin deck) has quit his mind-numbing job in the city and is home for the summer working at Kelsey’s in Owen Sound and saving money for university in the fall. Fluently bilingual, he plans, upon graduation, to spend winters teaching French and summers doing as he pleases. Good plan. For a few more weeks he’s house-and-dog sitting for a family friend in town, so has parked his two cats, Mister Blue and Mister Green, here at the cottage. There are no cats more affectionate than these two, nor any less particular about who’s stroking their heads and rubbing their bellies.

time away   1  2  3



time away   1  2  3