Temagami, Ontario. It’s the crackling of the fire, the warmth of flames, the simple comfort of the stone fireplace, which highlight our evenings, which over the years have become treasured times of comradery, friendly jokes, and memories shared.
The bounty of our fishing efforts in the darkening hours before kindling the days end around the fire, have been cleaned and cooled, the boats tied tightly to the dock, and tackle stored safely away in the boathouse.Most of our Lake Temagami fishing time is spent looking for walleyes as the sun sinks in the west.
We are, for the most part, all too lazy to head out at the crack of dawn, a time considered ideal for the serious pursuit of northern walleyes, but a better time to snuggle deeper into a warm sleeping bag while the beginnings of a big breakfast are being tended to in the cabin kitchen.
As long as we’ve traveled this path north, most things stay the same. One fellow heads the morning kitchen staff, another tends to the worms we protect like bullion, and another cleans fish. New guys get duties such as sweeping the wool area carpet; the same carpet that was protecting the pine floor boards in the mid-1950s and still looks just as good.
My guess is that it was there when the cabin was built, sometime in the 1920s.
Of course the sweeper is manual since electricity has never found its way to the island cabin. Other new fellows might manage the firewood box, swing a broom to clear the steps and porch, or run to the pump house when more water is the order.
We eat good up here, too good perhaps. Eggs, bacon, home fries, pan cakes, gravy and biscuits, coffee and juice for starters, a breakfast that in between prep and cleanup, can take a couple of long hours.
Dinners can be anything from meatloaf to ham and potatoes. A couple of fish dinners with french fries, onion rings, and fried zucchini fill in the gaps. Everyone pitches in and those who cook do not do dishes.
For some reason, the boats seem to ride lower in the water as the week goes on. We had to chase off a scraggy young black bear that blocked our path to dumpster near the primitive boat launch that we use and some of the fellows enjoy the entertainment of a pair of otters that frolicked near then while fishing.
The exchange rate for currency is dynamic. One vender might say it is ten percent and another five percent. In reality, it’s very close but venders know that they can make money on sales and the U.S. money they take in. Bank tellers are the best people to deal with when exchanging money because the rate changes almost daily. And no, it’s not in your favor. Canadians do not use pennies so don’t expect one in your change.
Gasoline costs well over $5 per gallon in Ontario but is hard to calculate since gas is sold by the liter and the Imperial gallon is not the same at the American gallon. But dollar for dollar, a northern vacation is still and always will be a bargain.
One can’t buy or exchange the “all is good” wilderness feeling that comes free and in generous quantities north of the border.
(Readers may contact this writer at firstname.lastname@example.org.)