Wednesday, August 6, 2008

"The cottage"

When life gets crazy, people tend to crave the familiar. I am no exception to this. So, last week, with the Simcoe Day long weekend breathing down our necks, Amy and I chose to return to our favourite place on Georgian Bay, Prisque Bay, near Foster Island. Even though we had been there only a month before, and Georgian Bay is rife with magical places to explore, it was just too tempting to return to a tiny, barren piece of rock that, to us, anyway, feels strangely like home. Amy refers to it simply as "the cottage."

Along the northern shore of our remote haven runs a narrow channel, maybe five kayak widths across, that leads from Prisque Bay into Norgate Inlet. It is impossible, for us, anyway, to grow tired of the powerful landscape of this corner of Georgian Bay. As Amy says, "I could just sit and stare down that little channel all day." Here, she does just that.

The fishing was highly productive this time, and, for once, I finally managed to land dinner -- a two-pound bass that was absolutely delicious. Clubbing it over the head with a rock was not my favourite part (another lowlight was the removal of the guts, which contained a half-digested crawfish -- Amy was ready to head for the hills), but in a matter of minutes I had the handsome fellow cleaned, and we cooked him up. According to Fishing for Dummies, there is no such thing as half-cooked fish -- it is like an on/off switch. This is true. Cooking time for this particular bass was about two minutes. Add butter and couscous, and you get perfection.

In the far depths of Prisque Bay, there is nothing but rock and marsh. When we head back into such corners of Georgian Bay, I always think, "Yep, here we go. This is when we find the dead body." Amy prefers to think that we will find a canvas bag with a dollar sign printed on it. But on this day, there was only a vicious-looking pike, about the size of my arm, lazing in the sun next to a lily pad. When our eyes met, we both jumped, and, with a mighty slap of his tail, he darted out of sight.

Burritt's Bay, near Byng Inlet, is a waypoint on the paddle down to (and back from) Prisque Bay. Near these reeds, we spotted two snapping turtles -- bigger than dinner plates -- and probably many years old. Here, Amy catches her breath on a ledge tailor-made for reflecting on some of life's more significant problems -- like why we should ever have to leave such a paradise.

But, unfortunately sometimes, every journey comes to its inevitable end. After the wonders of Prisque Bay, we turned our bows for the put-in, a little resort called Georgian Bay Cottages, which has that most unique of things on Georgian Bay, a sandy beach. Perfect for unloading kayaks and packing your gear in the car for the long ride home.

In the end, "the cottage" worked its magic. This week, after three deep backwoods sleeps, my head has been clearer than it has in many months, and the course ahead obvious. Still, I can only dream of the next trip. Some days, especially in the dead of winter, I wonder what might be happening there. The absolute silence that must reign over everything.

It is this haunting, yet strangely comforting thought that always keeps me coming back.

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