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The Cottage in Hearst

Some comely cottage
towers timidly
upon a rock outcropping
nestled next to a precarious forest,
on an insignificant island
encompassed by Lac St. Thérèse.

The mosquitos here live tiny, yet stolid lives. Only one in every ten generations feast upon the family that has gathered here – also, in its own haphazard and inconstant way, like a writer’s pen late at night, finding meaning in the wayward direction of meandering ph(r)ases.

Exhausted dogs litter the living room while the children constrain their chaos to the borders of a Talent Show sign.

A royal-blue robe rids the rat-a-tat rumble of the genny from Neko’s ears. One should still hear the exclamations of “Fish On!” from the fishing party echo across the lake. I salivate as I think of all the fresh pickerel that Lacey, Avery, and John have caught for me.

We shall eat like kings unless the rotund rain clouds discharge their boiling burdens upon the lake to chase the fish deep into their homes: hoarse holes and hovels. Not even Kiel could catch a decade-old patriarch if he were cached away from the anglers of heaven.

For those who are home and sleeping in the haze of a lazy mid-afternoon: Meeka, with her drooping eyes and ears; Shilor, elongated on the rug like a fleeing leech; Seren, with her head couched upon her shoulder, and her body slumped into the couch – their dreams wander without direction like the capricious smoke of yet another mosquito pic.

The hours hang light as the fresh air billowing through the tightly-knit window screens, cut apart a million times only to reunite into a single draught, or memory, unperturbed.

Whether you work on wood, on wonder, or on welcoming one another to the dock with a landing party, or to the morning with percolated coffee, or to the pink-gold night with fireworks, there is joy and filial fraternity.

What rites root this family down? How shall we pass on this sense of togetherness? Can we build a memoir of this quiet island cottage in the character of the kids or in the wisdom of the adults? Every year, the memoir seems to grow and every year the wood that built the ceiling and the floor adds another ring to its ingrown ridges. Their grains line the colours of Maddy’s sign as she scribbles on the floor, adding texture to her art, adding wrinkles to the inside of her multicoloured “i”s.

This is no desert and we are not stranded yet we celebrate as if we were somewhere tropical. We gathered here like moisture in a desert and together we form an oasis. Under one roof, we bellow, thunder, and storm and between us all, there exists a calm. The grey clouds hang low as treetops, bowed beneath the weight of a lifetime of wind, harsh and shrieking from the Polar North, even in the dead of Summer. Up here, we can draw out the dampness from our souls with the magnetism of this hardy land, and with the kindness that would have us understand one another.