Autumn at the Fortress of Moderate Solitude
All too quickly, it seems, cottage season has come to an end. Tomorrow morning, we lock up the lakehouse, with dreams of returning the 1st of May, 2021.
All things considered (and by that, I DO mean the friggin' pandemic, with its associated uncertainties and restrictions), it has been a pretty damn good 5.5 months. Beginning mid-May, essentially every weekend - starting with a Thursday afternoon/evening commute east to Rice Lake - was spent at the #fortressofmoderatesolitude. It's a real hashtag; you should check it out on Instagram. I'll wait.
Throughout the summer and into the fall, I have been more grateful than ever to have a secondary "safe" place to spend our time. Despite the pandemic, we were able to access our cottage for the majority of the season. The Kawartha area - thankfully - was not very hard-hit by the virus, and we observed all the safety protocols recommended by the ministries of health. In the early summer, we brought our groceries with us. And as we moved from May into June, we started making cautious, brief trips into Peterborough for necessities. If anything, we spent more time at the fortress than almost any other year to date. If we did not have four cats to care for at home, we likely would have been there more often and for longer durations beyond 3-day weekends.
Our neighbours to either side of us were equally cautious. We waved at each other and chatted from our respective decks long into June, rarely getting closer than 5 metres. As the summer wore on, it became clear our neighbours were as cautious as we were while both at the cottage and at home. In effect, we had a "cottage bubble."
While I haven't published many projects from the summer, I have definitely been making photographs and sharing them via social media. I thought as things wind down, and we head into what looks to be a Covid-controlled winter, it might be nice to share my autumn with you. Below are two grids, one for September and one for October. Below those grids are my "pick of the crop" with additional commentary.
Color came slowly in September. There were hints in the early weeks, but Mother Nature didn't really start to dress up until the final week of September. That said, even without all her finery, there was still plenty to do and see. We were treated to a weekend visit from my niece and her husband, and the four of us had a great time touring the area and playing cottage games like Lawn Darts, and several board games.
As the weather was cooling off, we were able to get a major DIY project started and completed over one weekend; putting an 8-inch river rock border all around the perimeter of the cottage. The end result is very pleasing to the eye, and it should discourage critters and over-zealous lawn maintenance personnel from getting too close to the cottage skirting.
Friendships strengthened with our cottage neighbours on either side us and we had fairly regular - and socially distant - happy hours on more than one occasion. You know it's a good happy hour with much fun when the "hour" lasts three - or more.
Harvest season was in full swing and I was once again struck by the bounty this province provides, through the hard working local farmers. As we had all summer, we made several trips to our favorite local family-run farm, Indian River Acres, and also checked out Leahy Farms up County Road 28.
I once read a saying, "My favorite color is October." and it rings true for me. Mother Nature had dispensed with her teasing and was blatantly on display, revealing more and more every weekend.
October also signals the final month of cottage visits, so it's a bittersweet time of year for me.
On one particularly misty Saturday morning, I awoke early with plans to hike the Warsaw Caves trail up to the Indian River look out, capturing fall color along the way. The mist in itself was a real treat, and the maples and oaks that grew in and around the campgrounds were gorgeous. The hike to the scenic look out was filled with mist-covered evergreen forest. Not much colour but oh so mysterious. At the climax of my hike, a lone red/orange maple overhung the trail, right by the lookout. The view of Indian River, though shrouded in mist - was still spectacular.
We also made trips out to Young's Point, The Gut Conservation Area, and took the very scenic River Road drive into Hastings on more than one occasion. This country road does not disappoint with its autumn splendour.
And as the weeks went by, the resort itself exploded in color, too, as did neighbouring Elmhirst Resort.
Pick of the Crop - September
Pick of the Crop - October
On our final weekend of the season, we stopped by Elmhirst's Resort for a spa treatment. While I waited for my wife, I strolled the property, capturing would would be my final view of autumn 2020 in the Kawarthas. The sun was bright and still fairly low (it was around 10 am, DST still enabled). There was a great deal of leaf fall. I shot many images in the span of 45 minutes - even I was surprised by both the number and the keepers from that short time frame.
And that, ladies and gentlemen is a peek into my CoVid-19 autumn. I am going to miss the fortress more than ever before as we head into a psychologically darker and colder winter than many have ever experienced. Indeed, as we were packing up the car on that overcast, cold and rainy November 1st Sunday morning, I found myself pausing, close to tears more than once. The fortress would be out of reach for the next 6 months.
And hopefully no longer than 6 months.
I'm sure a lot will depend on how responsible we ALL are in the coming months, minimizing contacts and travel. Here's hoping we can all behave, and that we have brighter things ahead.