10 September, McLeod Bay
Half-light before dawn. Scent of coffee and birch smoke. Growl of diesel in the distance – the final freight barge of the season rounds the headland west and slips out of sight. 210 miles to town. Safe voyage, boys, and a good winter.
Summer slipping away now. The lake nearly calm. Some yellow leaves. Out in the dog yard the dogs are up and frisking – they know their time is coming.
It strikes me yet again: the central season here is not summer. It is winter. Here it is almost always winter, or late winter, or leaning toward winter… Two months summer, two months what some would call autumn, two months, maybe, of spring. The other six? Winter, any way you cut it. If you don’t like winter, you’d best be on your way.
Work to do, yes of course. But gone is the old frantic autumn tyrant of the days narrowing down, with not all the summer work accomplished. Now there is a calm voice saying “If it doesn’t get done, it doesn’t get done. No sense letting it drive you nuts.”
And whispering even softer — “And hey, if you do get it done, who’s to say how long it will last? Or you, for that matter…”
I guess this is called aging. Maybe it is called wisdom. Whatever you call it, it is a voice telling me to quit every night and have time for a sit, or a sail, or a stroll. If the woodshed is not full, we’ll cut wood all winter. If the guest house we’re building where the first one burned has no windows, or no doors, or no bunks, or, really, for that matter, not even a damned roof come the first flakes of snow, well? It won’t be for lack of trying. And so be it.
And so be it.
Postscript, September 24.
Same time of the morning, but two weeks have passed and it is dark at this time of day now. The summer grate has been pulled from the firebox of the kitchen stove and the fire is crackling at full bore. The Equinox has come round again.
The new guest cabin has a roof deck. It has been a long steady round, day by day in sun and wind and blowing rain and flurries of snow, and we pulled it off. Eventually it did become a blitz, and for some days there was nothing but the work, and chores, and meals, and sleep. Wonderful friends and family, talented all. No roofing, but a roof deck and taped seams and now I am away to Ontario for some book readings and presentations. Home again in 9 days to have at it all again.
— Oh, and anyone out there considering building a log octagon instead of the usual square or rectangular box: please take a moment and drop me a note for a word of advice and a reality check, and perhaps even some gentle dissuasion… Wow, talk about angles! More like boatbuilding than cabin building.
Far from finished, but it’s a beauty, rising above the ashes of the old cabin, some of the wall logs charred as testament to their recent demise, perched on bedrock and overlooking the still-shallowing waters of McLeod Bay.
And so be it.