This past Sunday morning, bright and early, Matt and the boys and I stuffed the back of our vehicle with food and summer gear and set off on an eight hour road trip up the highway towards home. We’re renting our friends’ beautiful cottage on St. Joseph Island again for part of the summer, where we can be closer to family, and nature, and a different kind of fun. It makes me happy that my boys now find that long drive on northern roads as exciting and nostalgic as I do.
It is quiet here on the Island. The cottage is nestled among trees at the end of a long gravel driveway and boat traffic on the lake is light. We do not have t.v. here, and our wireless connection is limited and sporadic. It’s refreshing to be temporarily cut off from the constant noise of everyday life that sometimes distracts us from what really matters most to us.
In this peaceful environment we hear mostly the gentle lapping of the lake's water against smooth stones, the wind rustling the lush green leaves of the trees, and songbirds calling cheerfully to one another from their sheltered perches. When we're still, we're rewarded with visits from gentle, wild creatures: a doe who paused right outside the front window this morning to gaze quizzically at us, a family of Mergansers bobbing playfully along the shore this afternoon. The sun warms our skin during the day, and in the early mornings and evenings we bask in the happy glow of simple human pleasures, like Will snuggling under a favourite soft blanket to read peacefully, or Noah taking advantage of the quiet hour after his brother has gone to bed to have thoughtful conversations with his dad and me.
The noise we sometimes hear here is of our own creation. We play rowdy games of Pictionary after dinner and make up ridiculous songs about the funny cat graphics on one of Noah’s t-shirts. Will’s imagination runs wild in this place, evident in the lively character called Walter he’s suddenly invented, who looks exactly like Will but speaks with an outlandish accent and has a riotously clever sense of humour (which only Will, and not the dimwitted Walter, realizes). Noah entertains us with songs on his ukulele, and when the wind picks up in the afternoons and the waves crash mightily against the shore, there are shouts of glee from everyone who dares brave the chilly water.
It struck me this morning, as I watched the early beams of the rising sun dance across the rippling lake, that this beautiful scene, set against the backdrop of majestic evergreens and rock formations, happens every single day, regardless of who is paying attention. It seems such a stroke of good fortune that any of us are here to witness such a breathtaking bit of wonder.
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