My Summer Affair

I don’t know if it was boredom or the confinement of Covid-19 that led to my affair, but it was more than welcome, it was needed and restorative.  I felt young again and very alive.

Far from the summer hoards descending on Wakefield and access points on the Gatineau River, I would pack up my Honda Fit and travel to that special place where I found both solace and joy.  My skin tingled at the thought of the afternoon clandestine meetings and even my dog could sense my excitement as I prepared to sneak away to meet my love. I felt somewhat guilty as my husband stood in the hot sun constructing fence posts, but I was obsessed and so with a casual wave, I said, “I am off to walk the dog.”

Once close to the rendezvous spot, I abandoned the car and travelled the well trod paths which I knew would lead me to the welcome embrace of my love, ever anxious to get lost in the power of wonderful sensation, to disappear from the insanity of the world as we know it and to feel joy.

Eagerly, I passed through rolling green fields headed to our designated rendezvous place. Past the Three Sisters (a majestic maple so named because of the 3 distinct trees growing out of its base) along a shadowy path of mushrooms of all different colours and sizes, I almost skipped along the rooted trail. My dog by my side, or nearby meandering through the woods, we hastened to our final destination.  He like me, looked forward to what had become the perfect afternoon routine and I tell you, dogs too smile.  In fact, I think as we came through the woods and into the clearing, we both grinned when we saw my love ready to welcome me in a warm embrace. I threw off my clothes and slipped …into the lake; the lake my love.

The surface of the water was warm, and it was only with the sudden plunge of my dog behind me that I dove deep into the belly of the lake to feel the cool spring-fed water surround me, making my skin tingle and avoiding the sharp claws of my hound as he made his exuberant entry into the lake. Surfacing, I glanced around me to see where my dog was situated and to scan the lake to see if we were alone.

Most days we were alone, amidst rocks as old as time and trees as magnificent as their predecessors; weeping aspens, maples, cedar, pine, birch and hemlock. We would begin our swim heading to one of three vantage points where we could enjoy an open vista of the entire lake.  Passing one of two beaver damns depending on our destination, we glided through the water with water bugs swimming in circles around us and dragonflies dipping in and out of the water, their iridescent turquoise wings glimmering in the sunlight.

About three quarters of the way across the lake, I would change my leisurely side stroke to an exuberant butterfly as I made my way to the rocky outcrop ahead, where I was always eager to while away a few hours and get lost in reverie and silent contemplation.

One day as I was humming the lyrics from Bob Dylan’s great song, Mozambique, “magic in a magical land,” and enjoying the sun on my face, a loon surfaced and looked me in the eye. Furtively, I looked to see where my dog was, and I was very glad to see he had gone to shore and was focused on an intense game of hide and seek with some frogs. The loon continued to stare into my soul and then in an instant took a deep dive and was gone.

These sudden and unanticipated encounters with nature fill one’s soul. The connectivity of sunshine and water, plants and animals can only be described as spiritual.  This was truly heaven on earth and I felt truly blessed.

One day sitting on the rocks staring across the lake, I watched two children and their father make their way by canoe and paddle board to an inlet nearby. They pulled ashore near some lichen covered rocks and were having fun jumping in and off the rocks.  Suddenly a water snake slithered gracefully by and thankfully neither child was alarmed.  This was truly tranquility base. Shortly after the snake had disappeared into the reeds, one of the children cried, “look an eagle.”  And sure enough, this beautiful bald eagle flew elegantly close to the water sharing his majesty to the delight of us all.

I am generally a morning person, but perhaps the most splendid time of a summer’s day spent at the water’s edge is late afternoon when the light is soft and the sun starts to dip and you find yourself staring blithely across the water, truly mesmerized. The water shimmers, the evening breezes rustle the trees, a softness replaces the heat of the day and a feeling of peace overtakes your senses and you feel abundant joy, glad to be alive, to be there, to be one with nature.

And so, the summer days drifted all too quickly by. Days of delight watching ravens perform magnificent tangos in the sky, butterflies and dragonflies alight on wildflowers or a semi-submersed log; hearing the distinct buzz of a bee and the wild tremelos of the loon echo across the water, and always my faithful dog by my side.

As the summer sun began to lose its intensity, fields of golden rod appeared as if by magic. Change was in the air. The long grass was gone, replaced by hay bales which now dotted the yellowing landscape.  The buzz of cicadas heralded the coming of autumn as August’s splendour began to give way to what Romantic poet, John Keat’s called, “the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.”

Like all true love affairs, this one was all too soon over, but the magic of the many moments spent with my love will help sustain me through the the dark winter months and with any luck, we will begin our romance again next summer!