I’ve been at the cottage a month today. 


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.

Finding a good novel …



I enjoy a good story. Drama. A good movie, or a novel.

Recently, I have been disappointed. It is difficult selecting a good novel to read. I can’t always rely on the critics or friends. For me, picking a good novel is like buying wine. I don’t know much about wine, so I pick the bottles with the labels I like best. And, I do something similar with books. If the cover looks good, it must be good. Right?

For a period, I only read emerging novelists. First time novels. I have book shelves filled with nice covers but few entertained, enlightened, or inspired me in any way.

Last evening, I watched The Equalizer with Danzel Washington, a 2014 movie that was met with mixed reviews. The most interesting part, at least for me, was when Robert McCall, the lead character, revealed he was reading novels from the “100 Best Novels” list published by Modern Library.

What a terrific idea.

I have known of the list, and others like it, but never paid much attention. It includes classics, as selected by a board of prominent thinkers – some I have read but many I kept overlooking. I’m going to start with #1, Ulysses by James Joyce, and work my way down. And, I’m going to read library copies. I may even try electronic versions. That would be a first for me.

I’ll read other works for sure. Notice there are no books on cycling listed.

How long do you think this may take? Do I still have time left?

Chas: “As long as it doesn’t cut into our time.”