#859: Big Water


When I was really small, just a toddler, I can remember having a couple names for this place:  “Big Water” and “Lake Water Stones”.  48 years ago was my first summer at Lake Water Stones, better known as Lake Huron.  Lorne Beach is the exact location.  These patches of land have been in my family for many decades.  The original cottage that Grampa Winter owned is still there, now occupied by Dr. Kathryn.  A lot has changed but not our family’s long roots in that dark sandy soil.

There were several times in my younger years when I didn’t want to be there.  In those foolish years I’d rather be here near the telephone line and creature comforts.  I can remember in the mid 80s at the cottage, my dad had to drive into town to make a phone call.  I had to tape all my precious wrestling matches at home and pray that they recorded.

Perspective changes and so does technology.  Now there’s no place I’d rather be than Lake Water Stones.

2018 changed everything for us.  That was the year Jen’s mom died.  Almost like the year without a summer.  We spent the whole season in hospital rooms and corridors, and hotels in Toronto.  After she passed we spent the whole fall cleaning out her house.  When we finally got back to the lake in spring 2019, we had learned to cherish and savour it more.

As if we needed a reminder how uncertain life can be, 2020 gave us a whole new perspective.  “Essential travel only.”  No road trips to cottage country.  They were wary of outsiders stealing their toilet paper, or spreading disease from the city.  As time wore on, we questioned whether we would be able to go at all.

I kept a positive attitude and I made the most of our time stuck at home.  I took advantage of my little patio, listening to tunes out there and doing several live streams in the fresh air.  Better than nothing.  A small patch of outdoors sure beats staying in all the time.  A little bit of blowing wind feels good on the skin.

Ontario was still on shaky ground and not yet in Phase 2 of re-opening when Jen and I finally returned to the lake at the end of May.  We missed the long weekend, usually a reliable starting point for a happy summer.  Instead we had a cold, dark weekend highlighted by the ominous “Premises Closed” signs posted at the beach entrance points.

I remember walking into the cottage and taking a breath of the woody smelling air.  You don’t notice it after 10 minutes, but it’s so strong at first sniff.  We were having a quiet weekend, no stops in town and we didn’t even tell anyone besides family that we were going.  Only when I tested the internet connection with a live stream was it obvious where we were.  Non-essential travel was frowned upon but I looked at this trip as essential to the mental health of two people who were quarantining pretty strictly.

Phase 2 began in early June and at that point we tried to make it up every other weekend, working around my parents’ schedule.  We wanted to maintain some distancing.  I had some goals I wanted to accomplish this summer.  Tossing out the planned accomplishments for Summer 2020, the new goals were attainable in an altered season.

  • I wanted to live stream outdoors from the lake — and we did this many times.
  • I wanted to eat steak every weekend we were there — and we did.
  • Swim as much as weather permitted — we did.
  • Mental health being the theme of 2020, I wanted to have a virtual counselling appointment from the porch.  I did two.  The setting was incredible.
  • Create as much photo and video content as I could to remember the place by in the winter.  Mission accomplished.

Setting realistic goals helped me make the most of this summer.  I feel more prepared for the fall.  And I’m really looking forward to 2021, when I might be able to add some more goals to the list.  (Still hoping to cook a wagyu steak on my own grill.)

Here’s gratitude for a great 2020 season regardless of the obstacles.  Hoping for better next year.


  1. Surprised young you called it Big Water instead of High Water.

    I thought all Canadians shared a hive mind part of the cosmic unconsciousness. Synchronicity and whatnot, and therefore you would have known the Rush song was coming in some way shape or form in a prescient manner unbeknownst to your waking mind.

    Plate of shrimp.


  2. Man, we’ve been going to a beach on the same lake since before I was born and that was 46 years ago. I always say I’ve been going to the beach since before I was born, because my mother was pregnant with me and I was born in July and they would have been there that year. There is something cleansing about it, as though it can cure all. We had years where we couldn’t go, living in Quebec and Saskatchewan as we did, and I’m sure there were times when I was a kid when I would rather have been doing something else, but we always made the best of it and had a ton of fun. Usually I could bring a friend along for the week of our cottage and that really helped. Since our own kids came along, our interest in the place is refreshed, and we always make trips. This is the first year ever that we did not do our annual cottage week. For all the reasons you mentioned, we weren’t bubbled with my parents yet, and it just wasn’t going to happen. That was hard, especially on the kids. We found a secluded little Grove where we can pretty much have some space to ourselves so we have been to the Beach several times this year, but it was definitely weird not going to the cottage. We still make the most of it though, as you say. It’s also an advantage that we can, with good traffic, go from our front door to having our feet in the sand in about 40 minutes. I’m glad you got all your footage, and checked off all the things on your list. It really is a special place.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You get it. You know. You understand.

      Oh you’ll appreciate this. As part of my mental health journey I’m really trying to be proactive and tackle fall and winter with some gusto this year. I am planning on doing an outdoor live stream, in the snow, for our friends who don’t know what that is! When the time and weather align properly, I’m going to do it. I have it all planned out. That gives me something to look forward to in the winter. I’m also going to teach myself photoshop (knock wood on that one) and do some tech upgrades during the winter. And of course the VHS Archives too. Those are so much fun to do in the winter. In summer the last thing I want to do is sit here and meticulously go through VHS tapes, but somehow in the winter it just feels right. So when the time is right I will shift gears and hopefully not let the weather get me down too much!


      1. Awesome! Proactive things to do will definitely help the winter feel better. An outdoor stream will be awesome! If the roads weren’t so dangerous to get up here, and there wasn’t a pandemic afoot at the moment, I’d invite you during one of our big snow dumps/blizzards for an on-location stream!


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