There we aren’t

there we aren't

Every morning, as I cross the bridge from Algonquin Island on my way to the beach with Bica, I look up the lagoon to where we were moored all summer and there we aren’t. In fact, the lagoon is empty. Everyone has either pulled their boat out of the water or moved to winter moorings on the mainland.

But we have done neither. Yet. A couple of weeks ago we sailed the boat to Port Credit, tied it securely (we hope) in a slip, and walked away. We’re pulling the boat this winter, for the first time in I can’t even figure out how many years. Five? Six? Maybe more. We’re both feeling a little trepidation about the state of our bottom (the boat’s bottom, just to be clear), wondering if a whole ecosystem has established itself there. We’ll find out.

So how is it Bica and I are still walking to the beach every morning, you may wonder? Well, we have rented a cottage on the island for the winter, a snug, beautiful little place looking across the harbour to the city. This is the view from our front yard.

front door

We spend our evenings sitting in the tiny sunporch, watching the lights of the city, watching the CN Tower change colour every few minutes, watching airplanes pass between us and the skyscape, in their final approach to the island airport. Airplane TV, we call it. Chris, a pilot himself, worries about them. That guy’s too low, he’ll say. That guy is coming in too fast. But so far, all of them have made it.

dining room

In addition to a cosy sunporch, a snug living room, and a huge, modern kitchen, the cottage has a small dining room looking out on the harbour, where I write each day. So warm. So much light. If I don’t finish my heartbreaking work of staggering genius this winter, I’ll have no excuse.

But it feels very strange to be decommissioning the boat for the winter. It’s been our home these many years. Yesterday we spent the day packing up books and paint and varnish and cleaning supplies, things you really don’t want to freeze. We took down all the running rigging, the lines that control the sails, till the boat looked naked, then we took off the boom, set it on the deck. Now we’re just a boat with a bare mast sticking up, and that will come off next Thursday just before the boat goes into the TravelLift.

Sorry, I kept murmuring as we worked. You’ll be fine. We’ll be back in the spring.

Winter at the dock

I won’t miss winter in the Port Credit marina. Here’s a picture, just to remind you (and me) of what it’s like. But I will be glad to get back to the boat in the spring. This time on land feels like an extended shore leave, albeit a very welcome one.

In my rambles around the island in the last couple of weeks, I’ve discovered that bittersweet grows wild here. It tumbles over stone walls along the boardwalk, climbs all over the shrubs along the path behind the fire hall, even pops through the carefully tended bushes along the waterfront. I’ve helped myself to a big bunch of it, arranged it in a jar on the counter in the kitchen.

Bitter and sweet in equal measure. Yes, that’s exactly right.

bittersweet

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