Yesterday was a Canadian day par excellence, beginning with a two hour ride, Carol driving Elva and me in Laurie's car, Don driving the men in his car, to Bill's cottage north of Gananoque. Beyond Kemptville the country roads became prettier and prettier, bordered with colour. We passed through Merrickville, Toledo, Delta and crossed the bridge at Lyndhurst before turning off the road along a track through the fields and into the woods beside a farm that reared Belgian draft horses. Bill's was the neighbouring property.
When we drew up at the cottage beside Grippen Lake and got out of the car we could not only smell pine needles but also, wafting from the oven indoors, the Thanksgiving turkey. It was a big bird, more than sufficient for the ten of us who sat round the cottage tables to eat it: Mickey and Bill's mother (a fine old lady of 93), Bill himself and his friend Alan (who've been friends for more than half a century), Carol, Don, Elva, Laurie, Chris and me. I'd enjoyed myself picking some wild flowers for the table to go with the pumpkins and decorative squashes. Mickey and her daughter had made some superb apple and pumpkin pies for our dessert, lashed with dollops of whipped cream. Two dogs, Baci and Harry, had a share in the feast as well, Baci from sheer joie de vivre flinging himself into the lake afterwards to retrieve a bounce ball, repeatedly.
Bill's cottage has a host of attractions, a swing, a boat, and tied up on the other side of the dock, C-FUEY, his yellow floatplane. Because of the wine we'd shared, the 'plane did not take off after our meal; instead, we went bush whacking round the property so that Bill could show us his hunting grounds, the grand old trees, rocky cliffs and deer trails. Elva, Carol and I extended our walk by hiking up to the road and back as well and by the time we returned to base the sun had set, the sky had gone pink and the view was one to remember, so I took this photo (click all the pictures to enlarge them):
Nobody wanted to leave yet, of course. Bill said, "Shall we light a bonfire?" so despite the chilly night air, we did, and to Chris' bemusement roasted marshmallows on skewers held over the glowing logs and the men reminisced about other campfires they'd sat around, winter camping at -40° in the North and so on, outdoing one another with tales of how they'd nearly killed themselves or each other people on various occasions in their Youth. In Rockcliffe, when they were small, (actually this was a dinner time anecdote) Bill and Alan used to "chuck rocks" at the gang of Frenchies across the road and the Frenchies would retaliate by chucking rocks at the maudits anglais. Those were the days, apparently. Only when the clock struck tea time Bill's mother would call "Willi-AM!" in no nonsense tones, and that would be that.