I’ve been at the cottage a month today. 

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I’ve been at the cottage a month today.

Alone without TV, or the internet.

Time has passed quickly. I’m never bored or lonely. There is always something to do. Cycle. Shop. Cook. Eat. Read. Cut the grass. Vacuum the floors. Write. Text the kids.

I have accomplished a lot. I found necessary services easily. A gym nearby that I never knew existed. A hair cutter that does a better job than the one at home. A group of like minded cyclists who do a weekly group ride. A contractor to install double-paned windows. A local shop where I could purchase a light touring kayak I have wanted for years. An arborist to trim back a 50 foot blue spruce. A contractor to install a gas fireplace. And, a seamstress to make curtains for the bedroom windows.

I’ve read 5 books. eBooks that I could find, and pay for easily. Books from a summer reading list provided by a gym colleague I respect. Books that have given me insight into South African apartheid, the Haiti earthquake, cycling around the world on a “safety”, West Coast indigenous culture, and a “who-done-it” set in northern Ontario cottage country. And, I listen to CBC Radio One throughout the day. It’s commercial-free, informative, and an entertaining glimpse into Canadian culture.

I cycle everyday. Well, everyday it doesn’t rain. There is always wind. A north westerly wind ranging from 10-30 kph. A hurting wind that tests my metal. No matter which direction I head out, I always find the wind. If not on the way out, on the way back. I ride on-the-drops most of the time. There may not be hills, but there is wind.

I eat well. Homemade energy gels for cycling made with dates, raisins, lemon and lime juice, peanut butter, and a pinch of salt. Homemade post-ride smoothies made with berries, banana, more peanut butter, and almond milk. Frittata. Quinoa salads. Cold pasta and vegetable salads. Imaginative stir fry with rice. Wraps with tofu, rice, vegetables, and baby spinach. And, veggie burgers when I want a quick, easy meal.

This is the first year I have been here in the spring to witness the area awaken. The leaves form and blossom on the trees. The Canada Geese parading by with their young in tow. Mosquitos. Lots of them. This has been an unusually wet spring, perfect breeding ground for the little pests. Higher than usual water levels, the result of unusual rainfall. Farmers ploughing and sowing their fields. Weekenders arriving to open up their cottages, and launch their boats for the season. And birds. Geese, Osprey. Herons. Loons. Owls. Robins, And, a plethora of wetland birds I’m unable to name. All harmonizing to the tune that is spring.

I’ve frequently seen the hot, humid summer days. And, the cooler, more colourful fall ones. But I have seldom witness spring here.

It’s the change of seasons that I miss on the West Coast.

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When they are needed most … 🤔

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I wrote earlier about how people appear when you most need them.

I recounted discovering a weekly cycling group in the area when I didn’t think any organized groups existed here. I recounted discovering a seamstress living nearby when I needed cushions for an inherited rattan couch I cherish. I recounted discovering a laid off roofer, who also lived nearby, when I was in desperate need of a new roof. And, when I needed a new fireplace (the old cast iron one is no longer certified safe and insurance companies refuse to provide insurance), I discovered a fellow down the road that operates a local business specializing in new fireplaces when I cycled past one day and saw his truck in the driveway.

I’ve learned people present themselves when they are needed the most, provided you have an open mind, and listen intently to those around you. None of the people mentioned above are advertised in any way. They are not in the yellow pages. I’m not even certain there are yellow pages any more. None of them have websites, and can’t be Googled. Their services are only available by word-of-mouth. Word-of-mouth! That’s how we learned everything in the past. By listening to family, friends, and neighbours.

After several years of procrastinating, yesterday I decided to purchase a light weight, touring kayak to explore the various waterways near the cottage. The local retailers I know only carry recreational kayaks, and I wanted something that tracks better, and travels faster. It seems I needed to shop at one of the larger metropolitan stores to find what I wanted.

As a last resort, I asked my neighbour. He was up to his cottage unexpectedly to cut his grass before leaving for a European holiday. He has been here as long as I have, and knows the area well. I asked him where he purchased his recreational kayak, and could he recommend a place that carries what I’m looking for. He asked if I knew of the place on Highway 11. No. I never travel that way.

Well, I Googled the business. Yeah, they have a website, and do advertise. You guessed it. They carry exactly what I’m looking for, and for 30% less than the metropolitan stores. I travelled there this morning, and purchased a new kayak, and paddle.

When I needed them most, this local business appeared.

Maybe it is because I’m located in a small, rural community with no TV, and limited internet service that I rely on word-of-mouth. It’s easy finding the services I need. In the city, the opposite is true. I have looked for years for a carpenter to do a small kitchen renovation. The job is either to big, or too small for everyone I contact. Here people are easy to find, appreciate the work, arrive on time, and deliver on budget.

Why can’t the city be like this?