The Ladies of the Lake

August, 2015

Canim Lake, B.C.

The great secret that all old people share is that you really haven’t changed in seventy or eighty years. Your body changes, but you don’t change at all. And that, of course, causes great confusion.

Doris Lessing

Wendy greets us at the door with the energy and wit of any gracious hostess. We have come to drop off Lee’s mom Eva Jean for a weeks visit at the lake. It could be any Canadian lake but this one is in the BC Cariboo. I step inside to the ever familiar cabin-at-the-lakeness. It’s the quintessential lake cabin -mismatched coffee cups, big windows to lake view, a fireplace, small bedrooms with soft mattresses or bunk beds, thin walls, an open shelf of board games, afghans, a wall of photographs of times spent here. Perfect in all its imperfections. My family had one, our family’s friends had one, Lee’s parents had one. To walk into Wendy’s was to walk into childhood summers, it smelled like comfort.

We stayed only a brief few hours to make sure the ‘girls’ were going to be alright for their week. These aren’t just any girls. Eva Jean is 92 and Wendy is 96. Wendy’s been coming here every summer for 65 years, Eva Jean used to have a cabin across the lake and now comes here for her lake time. They talk about the temperature of the water for swimming, about what they’re going to have for dinner, about the times they’ve had. Wendy says that when she comes up here, the rest of the world just seems to drop away. She shows me a rug her mother hooked that is thrown over an ancient couch, her water colours on a card table in the corner, the paintings her great grandson painted that are strung on a string across a rafter.  We spend the afternoon searching for her lost bottom row of teeth to no avail – she had them yesterday.

Do I imagine a bit of relief on their part as we announce our departure? Do they really want to be left alone? With assurances of checking in during the week and coming back on Saturday morning to pick up Eva Jean, we leave. As we drive off, a serge of love floods over me for these two women. I want to be them when I grow up.

Wendy and Eva Jean

Wendy and Eva Jean

Wendy's cabin

Wendy’s cabin

The girls going for a swim

The girls going for a swim, Wendy using a plastic chair as a walker and Eva Jean with her cane

After our swim Wendy says "I think it's time for a glass of wine, don't you?"

After our swim Wendy says “I think it’s time for a glass of wine, don’t you?”

Eva Jean climbing back up to the cottage after her swim

Eva Jean climbing back up to the cottage after her swim

We find a beautiful little campsite for the week at a fly fishing resort on a small lake where only electric motors and paddles are allowed. The lake is lined with bull rushes, chipmunks skirt around tree trunks when they see us coming, we go to sleep with the hauntingly beautiful cry of the loons. Daytimes are spent toddling around the backroads and exploring more Cariboo lakes ( there are so many!) our nights with chilly Pinot Grigio and books. Summer at its best.

Over looking Fawn Lake

Overlooking Fawn Lake

Bullrushes along the waters edge

Bullrushes along the waters edge

Canoeing on Fawn Lake

Canoeing on Fawn Lake

A tranquil mallard

A tranquil evening swim for a mallard

Big Bar Lake surrounded in ranch land

Big Bar Lake surrounded in ranch land

We had a delicious lunch served on the deck over looking Lac la Hache

We had a delicious lunch served on the deck overlooking Lac la Roche

Mahood Lake

Mahood Lake Shoreline

On Canim River

On Canim River

Hiking into Canim Falls

Hiking into Canim Falls

Canim Falls

Canim Falls

The river from on top of it eighty foot water fall

The river from the top of its eighty foot waterfall

Much about being around a lake brings me back to being a ten year old. Sneakers, exploring the woods, canoeing, towels drying on the line. But then I meet the ‘confusion’ Doris Lessing refers to. My inside does not match my outside.  Today Lee and I celebrate an anniversary that has a large number attached to it that makes me older than I feel. As I watched Eva Jean and Wendy go for a swim this week, from the outside I saw an amazing feat, but from the inside I’m guessing it was a different story. Their outsides were ninety something but from the inside this was something they have always done – they were just going for a swim. I wonder what the world would look like if we all lived from the inside out?

Happy Anniversary at Canim Falls

Happy Anniversary at Canim Falls

Categories: Travels By Land

1 Comment

  • Jerid says:

    My amazing friend, whom I can’t wait to see, this was one of you best posts ever! Happy Amazing days with the amazing love of your life!

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