Saturday, August 15, 2009


The Island, Day 2 (written on the road)

This part of the country is dominated by a geological feature called 'the Canadian Shield.' It's a sheet of Precambrian rock (mostly granite) that covers an area of approximately 4.4 million square kilometres, including much of northern Ontario. The island is part of the shield: 6 acres of rocks, covered with wind-stunted pine trees and punctuated by marshy low-lying areas.

The islands lies just adjacent to two other islands, one owned by relatives of famous Canadian painter A.Y. Jackson (founding member of the 'group of seven,' he spent that last two years of his life there) and the other owned by a family of homesick Finns (the terrain is very similar to that of Finland).

The island is owned by my girlfriend's Aunt and her family. Aunt M's father bought it in the early 1900s for $50. It's worth a lot more now. The cottage is large and well-appointed. It has running water (from the lake, so you can't drink it) and a septic system (read: indoor flush toilet). There's a full kitchen with a fridge, stove, even a microwave. A woodstove provides heat in colder months.

One of the family sons built a small cabin (really, a shed), far enough away from the main cottage for some privacy, with just enough room for a futon. We intended to sleep there during our visit, but on our first night, things unfolded very differently.

My dog was absolutely delighted from the moment she set paws on the island. She ran and romped and jumped from rock to rock. We even asked her to wade in the water (she was not a fan). I kept an eagle-eye on her, but sometime that afternoon, she ate something BAD.

We're not sure what it was, but by supper time, she was horribly, horribly sick. I've never seen my dog *this* sick. She was absolutely in *agony* and for several hours, I focused the whole of my attention on nursing her. She cried, vomited, whimpered, moaned.

We were on an isolated island in the middle of a remote, northern bay, a $100 water taxi ride away from shore and a three-hour drive from the nearest vet. It was terrifying.

I kept her outside for as long as I could, but as dusk fell, the mosquitos came out in droves. So I moved her indoors to the bathtub, where I spent much of the night. I curled up around her in the tub, comforting her as she whimpered and shook and dry-heaved.

I wept. I prayed.

After a few hours, she finally calmed down and was able to sleep. I moved her to a nearby bed and I slept too. By dawn, she was taking water (hooray!) and a few hours after that, she was back to her old habits: begging for breakfast.

I was so relieved!

We had a great day! The brunch I prepared was a hit: pancakes and fresh berries. We lazed around drinking tea and coffee. Midmorning, we headed down to the 'beach,' which is an area of sloping rocks with a sheltered area for swimming. Parts are it are very shallow, but there are deeper areas and a rocky island just offshore that's easy to swim to. After a quick swim, I headed to my 'yoga area'. It's private, sheltered by trees and accessible via a small foot bridge.

I did a *very* modified Primary Series, using Sharath's recording to guide my vinyasa. My practice area is on some of the oldest rock in the world and it's HARD (the rock, that is). I skipped any pose that involved rolling around on my spine (buh-bye, Garba Pindasana!) and nixed all inversions (but did a headstand or two in the cottage). I had a good practice, mostly very private (the occasional boat zipped by, but that was it). It was sunny and beautiful and the air was clean.

After practice, the party started! I headed to the swimming hole for a dip, then grabbed some drinks from the cottage. I rarely drink (alcohol) but for this cottage weekend, I brought eight vodka-lemonade coolers. I enjoyed one (and one more) as I laid on the rocks, heading back into the water periodically for a swim. Talking, reading, relaxing and getting lots of sun.

Aunt M has a regular visitor in the evening, a wild fox. The bay ices over in the winter (this entire area is inaccessible but for about 5 months out of the year) and animals migrate over across the bay. If they don't get back to the mainland by the spring melt, they're marooned. Aunt M has been feeding this fox all summer. She's skinny and apparently has a litter nearby. She loves any kind of raw meat and vegetables. She refuses to even consider french fries. Smart fox!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

Oh wow! What a scrawny mangy thing. Poor gal.