A year ago, in utter desperation to find a home, I was scrolling through pages and pages of listings for something in the cabin for rent, cottages, really anything out of the city category. Something that at least had trees. Even a tree. I would have settled for a single tree. My search yielded nothing but disappointment, and ritzy lakeside rentals at a grand a week. But finally, here I am after having forgotten all about that time, exactly where I wanted to be; nestled in a log cabin on a lake, surrounded by cedars, white pines, and spruce. My time here is in exchange for helping the elderly couple who own the cabin move some summer furniture around, air the place out for summer rentals, and perhaps stain a deck, “if there’s a good day for it.” I guess you have to step out into the world to find the places you imagine. To meet people, talk to them, give them a piece of who you are and accept what they offer in return.
When I pulled into the laneway off the twisty cottage road, I quietly danced when I saw the old tin roof, the single lightbulb hanging from a cord over the porch, the windows with the bright red trim. I poked around, heading down to the water… There is a PRIVATE BEACH! A little horseshoe of lakeshore just for me, complete with a rickety old swing and a bright green kayak. I made up my bed, dragged out the busted Adirondack chairs that had been mended with tuck tape, and settled into my new temporary home.
Murray is thrilled. We have a chair, with an ottoman, by the woodstove. A place to sit that isn’t also the bed. There’s a couch too. He goes in and out of the screen door a thousand times a day, sipping water from the lake. I don’t think he’s ever seen a lake before. It took him a few days to figure out how waves work.
And there’s a shower! It’s outdoors, in a little wooden shed, and I have to walk up the road and through a path across a creek to get to it, but it has a light, and hot water. Hot water that just pours out, without me having to heat in on the fire or in the sun. It feels like such a luxury after six weeks without plumbing.
Every day I walk up the road to see Pierre, to fill up a jug of drinking water in his kitchen. He’s eighty something and I always seem to catch him at a bad time. Yesterday he came to the door all covered in shaving cream but happy to see me nonetheless. He talks a lot, squinting his eyes shut when he can’t remember a word in English. I’ve got the lowdown on which grocery store is good for what.
As I was packing up at the caravan last week, (I hardly even cried saying goodbye!), I had a thought… I thought, maybe I should just go home now, and get started working on my camper. I was feeling eager to start preparing for the west coast, to get to the next step, without this detour. But skipping to the finish line makes for a damn boring race. And how do you know where the finish line is? You could spend a lifetime skipping ahead, only to realize later you’d missed the whole thing…