Monday, October 25, 2010

Cottage, Cabin, Tomato, tomatto

Three eagles, an otter family of five, several Rainbow Trouts, countless dead Sockeye Salmon and one squaw fish. That was the tally of wildlife I saw over the past 4 days. Oh yes, and one unfortunate dead deer by the roadside. Apparently it was unusual that I did not see any live ones. However, hunting season opened recently and they may be smarter than we think. Hope they are hiding well and that they escape the bullets aimed toward them.
I spent the last four days and three nights in Mabel Lake about an hour and a half north of Kelowna in B.C. Four days without television, cell phone signal, no gadgets of any kind and not even a radio or newspaper to keep me abreast of the news of the world. It was heaven.
At first it was a bit strange. I repeatedly turned my phone on and off to see if it was really true, but after a few attempts, I could see it was futile and I left it off for the duration. No texts, no calls, no nothing. Once I accepted this was going to be the drill, I started to relax into it. Days and nights consisted of nature walks, fishing, listening to music and a crackling fire, card games and great meals. We even cooked and ate a trout within an hour or two of catching it - our cocktail hour snack. I think my brother has got it right.
He bought this cabin ("cottage" in Ontario) in this beautiful B.C. lake resort two summers ago and this was my first visit. The reason the salmon were dead is because it has been one of the biggest runs up the Shuswap River in a century and after they spawn, they die. The riverbanks are covered with the carcasses and the smell although a bit unpleasant will only last as long as it takes the birds and bears and other carnivores to get rid of them.
Whenever I am in this sort of wilderness setting, it makes me hate the city. Makes me want to turn all Jeremiah Johnson and live in the bush. However, the reality is, after a few months of having to catch my meals and chop wood for the fire, the novelty might wear off a bit.....or maybe not. Hard to say. In this case, the cabin is perfectly comfortable and has all the amenities 0ne would need to survive - indoor plumbing, all the necessary appliances, good beds, an entire film library and stereo equipment. It also helped that the main fridge was stocked with food and the bar fridge was stocked with wine and beer. Let's face it - not exactly roughing it.
As I was a guest, I also did not have to chop the wood, carry it in, or even start the fire (although I do know how!). My brother is the lumberjack in the family and chivalry reigns, so I was well taken care of too. Getting into the forest, boating around in a fresh water lake, observing wildlife in natural habitats - these are the things that remind us we are Canadian. Life in the city does not do this for me.
And, four days was barely enough. Next time, a week at least.
You hearing that bro? Minimum. Thanks, and See ya soon!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Making Memories........her way.

Last night she was cruising on the Seine following a visit to the Louvre and a little shopping on the Champs Elysees. Tonight she is home eating a bowl of faux chicken noodle soup and watching a recorded episode of Glee in her pajamas. Night and day, apples and oranges? No, just Paris and Toronto. It always strikes me as such an enormous contrast. The complete reversal of scenarios when one returns from a travel adventure. My kid just got home from Europe about an hour ago. She is fortunate. At 16 she has been over the pond twice and traveled around North America and the Caribbean more than I ever had by that age. I am so glad she loves to travel. Of all the things I have done in my life, I would have to say that travel has given me more than anything. It has enriched my life, introduced me to other cultures, opened my eyes, blessed me with life long friends and now I have planted that same seed in my daughter - the travel bug, the joy of discovery. The stories of her European adventure will seep out gradually over the next days and weeks. She never gives me everything right away. So far I was told about three incidents - her mascara being confiscated by security at Heathrow, the order taker at a German take-out giving my little vegetarian some unasked for ham on her pizza, and dropping her tooth brush on the filthy floor in the train bathroom on the overnight rail ride from Munich to Paris. For the next 24 hours until she bought a new tooth brush, she had to clean her teeth with her finger and some toothpaste. As she relayed these little anecdotes to me, I had to say I was thrilled these were the worst things that happened. I'm quite certain my "incidents" were far worse. The supervision on high school trips these days is seemingly a far cry from what it was in my day. Thank goodness. Looking back, I am amazed we all came back in one piece. The strongest thing she drank on her trip was Red Bull, smoking was not allowed and there was zero tolerance for any mixing of sexes in their rooms. Suffice to say the same rules did not apply on my own youthful adventures. If there were rules, we surely broke them. That is my recollection. It makes me wonder. How will her travel memories differ from mine? It doesn't matter really. What really matters is that she has them. And they are all hers. Welcome home baby.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Nothing Fishy - Just the Truth.

There are days and weeks and months that can pass in my life when nothing particularly magical happens. This, from someone that sees messages in the the most uninspired things. I am a firm believer that the universe delivers messages to us on a regular basis if only we are open to hearing, seeing or noticing them. I try to stay tuned in to my intuition as it has never failed me. I, on the other hand have failed it - countless times. Whenever I don't listen to that inner voice of mine, I always regret it. It can be as simple as not listening to the voice that says, "Deb, you should turn off this route now or you will get stuck a few blocks up the road." I actually have a voice that says things like that to me. When I ignore it, I end up in gridlock. Every bloody time. Or, it can be something far more serious. Like the voice that told me I should not trust that used car salesman in 1986 that ripped me off for a thousand bucks at a time in my life when a thousand may as well have been 10 thousand. I won't go into all the boring details, but suffice to say - he got my grand and I got nothing. Nothing at all, not even a cab chit to get me home. I still hope that bastard got the bad karma that he deserved but I'll never know. It was all I could do to not visit his pathetic little car lot one dark night and torch the place, but I don't have any desire to spend time in prison, so I didn't. So, I was going somewhere with all of this - really I was, but my glass of wine is almost empty now and I tend to ramble when under the influence of a nice glass of red. Oh yes, I was going to tell you about the little bit of magic I experienced today. It was the perfect autumn day here in Toronto. Warm, breezy, sunny, the colourful leaves beginning to flutter to the ground, crunchy beneath my feet. The smell of the decaying leaves not yet offensive, just a little heady and earthy. Like I said, perfect. I decided it was a good day to take a long walk along the Humber River. I walk this trail pretty regularly and it is always a joy. But at this time of year, it really takes on a whole new face. The bits through the forested areas are my favourite. The leaves, the last blush of summer still alive, all the birds and squirrels feasting on the nuts and seeds that are plentiful now - it is truly nature at it's best. As if that was not enough, the recent rains have left the river high and flowing fast and the salmon are heading up river. I stood and watched these incredible fish struggling to climb the various levels of the river. How determined. How fascinating. Watching them battle the fast-moving waterfalls and failing time after time was almost painful. I found myself cheering for them, egging them on, wishing for them to succeed. Apparently many of them do not. I decided I would stand until at least one of them made it up and over. I did not know how long it might take, but I did not care. I knew eventually one of them would make it and then I could go on my merry way. It only took about 10 minutes before I saw one of about 75 fish make the jump. I did a fist pump in the air for that fish. I shouted "Yes!" I was so happy for the success of this one salmon. Imagine - all these salmon, so determined to return to their home to spawn. It is the only thing they need to do. And then they die. It is their sole purpose in life. It is their "truth". We humans seem to complicate things way too much. We have countless distractions and life choices that prevent us from reaching our "truths", unlike the simplicity of the salmon. They heed the call and move toward it. As I waited for one lone salmon to make the jump to the next level in the river, I told myself that if just one salmon could make it, there was still hope for me. Still hope that my life will count for something. That my "truth" is still attainable. Good news. One did.