Saturday, October 27, 2007


Wildflowers, ferns and grasses, bushes and berries. Water lilies on the Seguin. This is the real deal. The rest of the year seems one endless packing up and moving, the great unpacking in Spring. Finally Mother Nature takes a rest.

In Muskoka and all through Georgian Bay, the people come out. Mostly in cars going somewhere, to the cottage and back, to another golf course or resort, along a river or lake to fish. For the extreme wilderness experience, going back way before Survivor, there's flying in by float plane into the bush. But what everyone dreams of is the boat on your own lake.

Canoes, kayaks, sailboats are the friendly alternative to getting around. Once you hit the big lakes and the wide open waters of Georgian Bay, it's the scream of the outboards and powerboats. Though they're everywhere, you don't often hear them. Most of the time they're docked at the marinas or in driveways. Basically it's a pain to get these beasts up and running after months of mothballing over the winter. And even if you're all set, the trailer hitched by noon, an hour's drive somewhere to some public boat launch you can't find, the clouds roll in and boom, it rains. If you've got the dough, buy a cottage with a boathouse.

Yacht's do better. Everyone seems to like them, the friendly waves from ship to ship and ship to shore. These are the gypsies of the lakes, the high-end tourists, who with the help of canals and locks, can arrive from Tampa and New York. Even the occasional full blown mega metal cruise ship loaded with Germans, makes it to deep harbor Parry Sound. Most drive-thru tourists take the local cruise ships from Gravenhurst, North Bay, French River, Parry Sound, Orillia, Penatanguishine, or the picnic style canvas-topped floating golf cart class from dozens of marinas. The big draw is the 30,000 Islands in Georgian Bay, a definite must for Japanese families from spring through fall. The endless green and then the reds and golds of autumn astonish the kids.

My favorites though are the tall ships, only a rare sight in summer, but a glimpse of one takes you to some deep place, while the last of the romantics would have to be the tugboats rescued from retirement and rust. A lot enjoy a new life in the hands of would-be old salts, who've done a great comic opera job on them, many strings of flags flying merrily on these bright spots of memory.

Relax and enjoy a summer in the country.

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