In July, we returned to the cottage for summer adventures.
Not only do Jonny’s parents own the land surrounding the cottage, they also own ‘Harris Mountain’ and the nearby lake.The first time I visited the lake it was frozen over and coated in icing-sugar snow. This time, I dove in head first and swam with the fishes. We played on the wooden dock; tipping it over, knocking each other off and doing faux-yoga until the dock sunk underneath us.
We canoed to a forested island in the centre of the lake and explored dark chilly caves with icy puddles at the bottom. We found woodpeckers and snakes and frogs and chipmunks. Twigs scratched our legs, dirt covered our feet and sweat dripped down our backs. I felt like a kid again, exploring the wilderness; being Tarzan, Pocahontas, The Swiss Family Robinson, Rambo.
We hiked up the mountain; dodging poisonous plants, eating wild berries, and admiring the incredible view. At the top we took a few moments to appreciate the green landscape, the sapphire water, the burning sun. And then we became kids again and began rolling boulders off the cliff edge and listening to them crack and tumble into the world below.
In the evenings we swapped bathing suits for pajamas and huddled around the campfire. Ian played guitar and sang Barenaked Ladies songs, Kevin admired the stars through a telescope, and the rest of us roasted potatoes and marshmallows on the fire. We played a game, the same one at least twenty or so times. It was called Loup-Garou which is French-Canadian for werewolf.
Loup-Garou is a detective game where people are given secret roles to play; three werewolves, a witch, a detective, a little girl, a fat boy, the lovers, the hunter and the villagers. Occasionally someone was Jesus which meant they could rise from the dead. Basically everyone has specific things they can do and the goal of the game is to figure out who the werewolves are before the whole village has been eaten.
In the night (when everyone’s eyes are closed) the werewolves decide who they are going to eat and they tell the leader of the game ‘God’. Then they go to sleep and the witch wakes up. God points to who is going to be eaten and the witch can decide whether to save them or kill someone else. She goes to sleep and the detective wakes up and asks God for the identity of a certain person. Then he sleeps and the whole village wakes up. The little girl is the only person allowed to peek throughout the night but she can be killed if she is caught by a werewolf. If the fat boy is eaten then the werewolves cannot eat on the second night. If one lover is killed then the other must profess their love and die as well. If the hunter is killed, he can chose someone to kill at the same time. In the morning, zero, one or two people can be dead and the villagers are angry and have to decide who to lynch. Arguments and tactical votes are made then someone is lynched by the town. After every death, the dead person must reveal their role. The game ends when either the entire village or all the werewolves are dead.
The game was awesome and resulted in many fictional deaths, betrayals and twists. We spent the rest of our time eating hot dogs and snacks and drinking until the mosquitoes became too persistent. We played board games and listened to music and swam in the lake for hours.
The cottage in the summer is completely different from the winter. I adored exploring the wilderness and experiencing a real Canadian summer. A few years ago, when I was still in high school, I had a section of my bedroom wall designated for Canadian travel pieces and photographs. I remember this one picture specifically of a couple in a canoe on the most stunning lake I have ever seen. And as I sat on the dock admiring the beauty around me, I couldn’t help but feel like I was finally experiencing that photograph and how lucky I was to realise one of my travel dreams.
Thank you, friends, for the wonderful cottage times. I’ll never forget them.
Credit for the wonderful photographs goes to Colleen Jones (the awesome girl with the dreads).