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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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cottage weekend

Just got home from the cottage. Alison George, Jeff Latto, my Jeff, and I went up on Friday. I was a bit worried because I had heard that the ice wasn't entirely stable, and was thinner than was usual this time of year. We got across okay, however. I found it a bit tough going, slugging through ankle-high slush in my Sorels, but found it easier once I was able to switch to snowshoes.

Once we arrived at the cottage, we had to open up some sleeping cabins, light a fire, chop a hole through the ice for water, and shovel some pathways through the hip-deep snow. By the time we were finished, it was dark. The stars were amazing; much clearer than in the city. Jeff L. made an ice candle holder by pouring water into a pail, letting it freeze almost completely, and then carving a hole in the middle. Alison and Jeff R. made several more the next day.

Caramel muffins, bananas, coffee and juice for breakfast the next morning, then we set off on our cross-country skis to explore the frozen lake. The sky was a brilliant blue, with the sun turned the broad expanse of snow and ice into white fire; it was nearly painful to try looking around without the protection of sunglasses. Slush kept freezing onto the bottom of our skis, making it necessary to stop several times during the trip to scrape off the ice. We had a picnic lunch on a sun-warmed rock on the other side of the lake.

Much napping, reading, and snacking. A marten came to visit several times, attracted by the birdseed that Jeff R. had sprinkled on the deck.

One of my personal highlights of the weekend was sitting on a deck chair that Jeff L. had dragged onto the frozen lake for me, closing my eyes and letting the setting sun warm my face. Layered in fleece and Gore-Tex, I wasn't cold at was incredibly relaxing, sitting there on the ice. The best part was the silence; it's so rare to experience that kind of silence in the traffic, no planes, no crowds. Just the occasional hissing of snow drifting across the ice and the call of a winter bird from the forest. I dozed off, but woke when the sun went down and it suddenly got colder.

Dinner that night was courtesy Jeff L. and Alison; steak, mushrooms, and red peppers, cooked on the barbecue, with slices of blue cheese to go with the steak. The homemade candle holders were beautiful in the darkness, candlelight flickering through the ice.

The next morning, Jeff R. shovelled out an ice rink in front of the cottage, in preparation for my nieces' visit (Sara and Annie are coming to visit the cottage with their parents next weekend). We took bucketfuls of water and spread it onto the ice to make a smoother skating surface.

Going back across the lake this morning was easier since most of the slush had frozen over. A wonderful weekend, but it seemed way too short. :-)

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