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Posts Tagged ‘Cottage Country’

Canadian flies are monstrous! South Africans would refer to them as ‘brommers!’ As the weather warms up their deep drone can be heard as they lurk at any open door or window. They wait patiently ready to dart into the delights of your home or office. Cooking in the kitchen or opening up your lunch sends shock waves out to all the local chommie brommers. Their over sensitive olfactory system zones into the aroma and draws them in like moths to a light at night. It is their way of getting onto their very own social media. Their status would read something like this………Grub’s up boys!

The Canadian Brommer

The Canadian ‘Brommer’

Once inside you are left with a few options to rid yourself of these domestic invaders. One being a quick flick of the wrist which would result in the demise of the noisy invertebrate. This does not go down too well with the Greenies and more squeamish amongst us. Trust me, squashed insect inners between your fingers does not do much for the appetite. But there is an advantage of using this method of capture…. namely it is easy to execute. The reason being is that these members of the Canuck insect clan are slow movers. It must have something to do with the adaptations to the threats that face them in Canada. They are not exactly fighting off Brown Bears! Now if they were anything like their South African brothers it would be a whole different story. Their acutely well-trained compound eyes would observe the said hand long before it reaches the target.
The second option is well known amongst our local fisherman where the salmon run free and wild. Catch and release is a piece of pie to implement with these lumbering locals. The brommers down south in Africa have trained us newbies well. It requires stealth and method to catch these ‘boytjies.’ You need to creep up on them with an open hand. The trick is to keep the hand level and low. Then raise your hands just above them to catch the buzzing invader in flight. Make your way to the door with your prize firmly clenched in your hand and release. The inner Greenie is left content with no fatalities.

Canadian mosquito

Canadian mosquito

Now when it comes to mosquitoes, don’t mess with these Canadian buzzers. They thrive on or near the 250 000 lakes that are part of the picturesque landscape here in Ontario. Their bite is painless. But wait for it, there is worse to come. This enables them to discreetly strike and suck your blood and then disappear like thieves into the darkness. Within hours red, itchy welts appear. Oh the itch drives one wild! There have been times, while suffering from the affliction of mosquito bites, I have wished for the ‘supplity’ of a dog. Ah…….to just be able to reach that spot. But that is not the worst thing about these little stripy devils. The burn and crawling skin continues for weeks. The memory of the weekend away at the cottage is long gone but the itch lingers.

Cottage Country

Cottage Country

So although this might seem trivial. It goes to show that comparisons are something we all do. As newcomers it is a way of absorbing change ….we observe the differences and similarities and process our new environment. Just wish the mozzies would lay off me as I earned my stripes with their African cousins!

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You walk a lonely road; oh so far you are from home…….

 

The bustle of the airport was overpowering and I felt the nausea rise in my throat. My swollen arm ached and I cursed myself for my stupidity at my uncoordinated crash from the ski lift. These journeys back to South Africa are long and lonely. Mixed feelings and longings fill my head as I try to rise above my pounding head and sore body.

“Hello, I heard you speak, you must be South African!” A bright cheerful face looked down on me. Those kind words quickly washed away my self pity and wallowing. We chatted and connected with the similar threads that had been part of our lives. My new friend was further down the road of the ‘Trans- Atlantic Living’ and I valued the tips and similar experiences that we shared. Too soon it was time to board and the conversations would have to continue once we were back in Canada.

The view from Loonshadow.

Morning coffee on the deck at  Loonshadow

 

May it be that you journey on to light the day…..

 

Many months later we joined the weekend exodus of Canadians up to Cottage Country. We were to reconnect with our fellow South Africans. The spring colours burst forth as we travelled up east deep into the Kawartha Highlands. The name ‘Kawartha’ means “the Land of Reflections.’ The name did not disappoint as we indulged our eyes on the ice- melt rivers and the glistening dark waters.  You do know that there is more lake area in Canada than any other country in the world! I digested that thought while the road meandered on through the hills and dark forests. We had been on the road for almost 3 hours and a cup of coffee and a rusk would certainly would have gone down well! The car rounded one last corner and in the clearing, a cottage nestled amongst the trees. We were finally at “Loonshadow.’

 

A walk in the forest

A walk in the forest

Believe and you will find your way……..

 

The front door opened and our South African hosts were there to greet us. There was that same hospitality that I had experienced at Amsterdam Airport. The weekend had begun….

The men tried their hand at fishing but they could only tell us about ‘the one that got away.’ Besides, who needs fish when you have loads of steak and boerewors! The women ambled through the dense forest, while the boys ventured out on the quad bike. There was much to talk about and we covered a range of topics, like only women can. Everything from ‘what hair product works best in Canada’ to ‘the best places to shop.’ What can I say? I am sure that the men’s conversation was a far cry from this, especially being that their favourite rugby team had just been defeated! The sounds of our voices were like a whisper as the forest floor echoed under our feet. It was time to see to the evening meal.

 

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire.....

There is nothing quite like staring into a fire…..

May it be an evening star shines down upon you…..

 

A roaring fire was made and we gathered round as the light disappeared from the mirrored lake. The sad howl of the loon duck faded and the shrill call of the osprey broke the silence of the night. It was perfect and even the bite of the black flies could not spoil it for us. There is always a bit of pain with the pleasure…….

 

 

 

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Summer flowers line the streets.

They are standing on top of the high rise buildings in Toronto today in search of the sun! Even the breakfast television anchor man was perched on some skyscraper, as he babbled on about the local news. The Torontonians are in ‘summer fever’ mode and the excitement is tangible.

Outside patio furniture is being dusted off and carried out so that it can catch the first rays of summer. I catch the flash of turquoise, cerise pink and yellow in the shop windows to tempt me. Restaurants are competing for clientele and some have even added hanging baskets of cascading geraniums to their outdoor rooms. Graceful umbrellas extend their arms out and create peaceful havens in the hustle and bustle of the city. Newspapers abound with fliers advertising all that is related to summer. As I enjoy my cappuccino at my local café, I overhear a couple discuss their escape up to ‘cottage country’ this weekend. There will be a mass exodus of boats, fishing gear and summer revelers as they enjoy a long weekend.

Monday is a public holiday as Canadians still celebrate 24 May as Queen Victoria’s birthday. We are rather low on the public holidays here as we only have about 6 a year. So thank goodness for Queen Victoria and the colonies! It all began with 5000 residents way back in 1854. They sang ‘Happy Birthday’ outside Government House in Toronto and the queen liked this so much that she declared it a public holiday. Over the years the celebrations have varied from the usual rush north to the cottage, athletic competitions, firework displays, gun salutes, carnivals and the good old barbeque.

We are going to fall into the latter and I have bought the boerewors from the South African shop and a few ‘lamsvleis sjoppies’. The chops are from New Zealand but I am sure we will still pick up on the flavour. So on Monday we are going to light up our braai. We will join in with our neighbours and friends and toast Queen Victoria with a fine glass of South African red in one hand and a piece of boerewors in the other…… here’s to SUMMER.

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(This song was written by George while he was sitting in Eric Clapton’s garden after a very long English winter)

Cheers to spring!

 “Little darling, the smiles are returning to the Canadian faces. Here comes the sun. It feels like years since it has been here. Sun…sun here it comes…..”

Cottage Country is being opened up so that ‘gone fishing’ can become a weekend activity once more. Sport cars are relieved of their grey winter covers and skylights are slid open. Bikini’s are pulled from the back of cupboards and summer outfit shopping is in full force. The black and drab- grey garb of winter is pushed to one side. Pinks, yellows and even a touch of orange will soon be the prominent colours on the streets and the nautical and ‘preppy boy’ look is all the rage. Oh to just wear my white shorts again!

Spring fever has hit our street. We have all come out of hiding and I see new faces each day. The ‘snowbirds’ have returned from their escape down to Florida and are hurriedly catching up with ‘the opening up’ process. We scurry about and tend our gardens. We rake, trim, bundle and feed our urban sanctuaries. Local knowledge is shared over the garden fence and the best compost, topsoil and fertilizer is discussed. Garden catalogues are poured over with the brightly coloured flower selections. It is to be our first spring garden in the northern hemisphere and the lack of knowledge of the local flora and fauna is quite a challenge. Local gardening magazines are a great help as I scour the pages for plants that will survive zone 5 type weather.

I assure myself that the characteristics that are required for plants to survive in the African sun or the harsh Canadian winter are similar. They both require the resilience to survive in harsh weather conditions. Although the plants in Africa have to contend with prolonged heat and not enough water, while the Canadian ones have all the water in the world and very few months of continuous sun!
Water, water……everywhere….. and I remind myself that I don’t have to run a tiny bath anymore!

Inside the house the spring cleaning process is in full swing. I am slowly learning the intricacies of keeping house in the northern hemisphere.  Here house mites need to be kept at bay. All mattresses need to be vacuumed regularly.  I smile to myself as I reflect on how the pattern of my day has changed. I used to fill my head with ideas on how to challenge my pupils and now I ponder the life cycle of a house mite in a Canadian household. Both challenges….just different fields!

The beers are on ice and I have a few good bottles of merlot in the store to savour on the deck on those long summer evenings.

“We made it! It has been a long and lonely, cold winter. And I say…..It’s all right.”

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What do Canadians do on Canada Day? It was going to be our first ever and we were keen to follow tradition. Many of these hard working city dwellers find some respite in the stillness and solitude of the lakes and the forests and they head up to Cottage Country.

 

We packed in all the necessary sustenance and headed out early before the rush. One could notice how the landscape began to undulate and the vegetation changed from only deciduous trees to a mixture of conifers and deciduous. The growth is still a vivid green and hardly has time to show the effects of ageing when the Fall brings about the big drop.

 

After a few hours we drove up to a secluded wooded property, we drove through a maple forest and nestling between the trees was a quaint wooden cottage. Our little bit of heaven for the weekend! But the best was yet to come, from the deck one could take in the view over the lake. What a view! There was a long staircase which meandered down to dock along the waterway where 2 wooden chairs and a boat beckoned me. I succumbed to the wooden chair as the stairs were quite a workout.

 

Here you could really contemplate life and any of your demons that needed to be sorted out. I wiled away many hours down there with a good book in hand or just watched Philip and David pull in brown trout. Josh also took delight in the ‘gone fishing’ activities and managed to taste a few caudal fins in the process. This evoked a primeval instinct in him again. He was transported back to the Koppie in Lonehill when a family of possum ran across the deck. He went into attack mode but fortunately they knew the lay of the land far better than he did and managed to escape his jittering jaws. So peace returned to the water edge again and I was able to just ‘muck about in boats’ till the sun set.

 

It always amazes me how people from your past often cross it again and this weekend was made possible by a South African university friend from Cape Town. There is a kinship that exists between those of us that have lived in Africa. Thank you for reminding me how special it is to be out there in the stillness and to be able to hear my inner voice again.

Mucking about in boats



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