Cottageday 1 Ambitiously realistic

Day one of my cottage vacation has me delving into the books from first light in the bedroom window, with James Alan McPherson “Elbow Room”.  This is a Pullitzer prize-winning short story book from a black American author who died earlier this week.  Ted deems it “prize-deserving and thoroughly enjoyable”.  Its city settings totally out of context with life in Muskoka.

After swim, breakfast, run, breakfast, swim, I reclined in zero gravity (??) next to a maple sapling and checked out the maples in Donald Culross Peattie “A Natural History of North American Trees”.  This writer, who died in 1964, has the perfect educational background for me:  French Poetry at University of Chicago and botany at Harvard before working for the Department of Agriculture”.  [See inside jacket photo]

Culross Peattie bio
Culross Peattie bio

The language usage is outstanding.  Noted: rachitic, elegiac, dietetic, mayfly, wraithlike, sesquipedalian.  Searching for the Latin expression used by Peattie, “Horribile dictu” I came across the Merriam-Webster Unabridged dictionary, available for a 14 day trial – SOLD!  Will be looking to expand my knowledge of words over this vacation.

Here’s a two paragraph quotation from Peattie which I cite, not particularly for the language, but for the subtle yet precise way that the author expresses an opinion on the landscaping uses of the Silver Maple Tree:

“A tree with so many charms has naturally been planted far beyond its natural range, and everywhere within it.  In the South, where it is rare as a native tree, it is common as a street tree. In the West, even in southern California where deciduous trees usually find little favor, it is a favorite, for it cannot grow without lending grace to any spot; it makes a railroad station look like a home, and adds a century to the appearance of a village street. It is the fastest growing of all our Maples, one of the fastest among all trees suitable to our climate, be they native or exotic.  It is as charming in its childhood as in age, and in its youth goes through no awkward stage.

Yet landscape architects have little good to say of it.  They complain of the insect pests that attack it, and of its comparatively short life, as well as the breakage of its brittle and too-long boughs under wind and ice damage.  They urge that it be planted, if at all, in the full knowledge that it’s quickly achieved effects will not last long, and that more permanent if slower plantings be started at the same time.  It may be that we should always listen to cautious and sensible people and not allow ourselves to think too highly of a tree that will perhaps only live three times as long as we do.”

Natural history and language brought together, like Annie Dillard also capably accomplishes in “Pilgrim at Tinker Creek”.  A treat to consider Culross Peattie’s writing and learn natural history, American history and language, all together.

book cover photo Donald Culross Peattie: A Natural History of North American Trees
Excellent language use forces a first day cottage blog

Prepared for a cottage vacation

Hammock

 

The above view is a good summary of what I expect of my 10 or so days at the cottage this summer.  Taken from the hammock where I read, read, read, it looks over the water where I swim, swim, swim and when conditions are right – Windy, mais pas TROP venteuse – I set out on my Laser sailboat.

Today, I am all packed, as when I did the wash yesterday I assembled the appropriate clothes directly into my suitcase.  I kept telling myself that this year I will keep my expectations of what I am going to do at the cottage simple – besides the above, we’ll be eating, running or walking a lot (1/2 marathon to prepare for this fall) and after expending all that energy, sleeping so soundly, like only the cottage environment allows me to do.

Other years I may have included non-traditional cottage tasks, which strangely, I never accomplished.  Some of them:  Learning another language, making speakers – an alternative sound system for my truck, doing calling for an August market (this year it is Sept. 10); so many projects / so little time – the cottage is not conducive for THAT!

It is always a pleasure to make the 6-8 hour drive to the cottage.  Because of the anticipation.  Passing familiar places that you just see once a year.  Much of the route is itself cottage country.  Once past Ottawa we’ll be passing lakes on the left and the right, past Round Lake (Camp Mishewah – camp of my youth), through Algonquin Park, and stopping to provision along the way (but not over-doing the food purchases this year).

And arriving – unloading the trunk – it is all going to be in the car trunk this year – but for the canoe paddle which must go in the back seat. It will be such a quick unload; and then we’ll put clothes in a drawer and pull out one of three bathing suits and swim in the lake – just for fun – we’ll leave the laps of exercise up and down the shore for tomorrow.

To throw you off my trail a bit...
To throw you off my trail a bit…

Sun, wind, sail

Sun..wind..sail
Sun..wind..sail

I’ve had this sailing photo for years. It’s quite low quality, but sometimes, in doing a vector trace (Coreldraw) a mediocre photo can become a piece of art – or at least paint by number art. Love the blue. That’s sailing. The position that I’m in – fully extended – is called “hiking out”. The Laser is a board boat with a relatively large sail area. It doesn’t take that much wind before you are having to put your legs under the hiking strap, your toes on the toe rail – hiking out to keep the boat sail more or less perpendicular to the water. The spray of water hits you and it feels SO GOOD!

Going to post just this much and then add a second post in the coming days about my full history with the Laser / Performance Sailcraft and Mr. Ian Bruce, who designed the Laser.  Some times bad things – like losing my rudder / tiller assembly to the depths of Dickie Lake lead to rare opportunities – like meeting someone who designed the top one-design sailboat in the world.  More on that coming in another post.