Ah June – summer finally, in the place we live, where for a brief time we are tricked into forgetting how far north our ancestors managed to settle – up here above the forty-ninth parallel. I love summer, the exquisite season of heat, long days, sweet flowers, and travel back and forth to the briefly warm lake.
My lofty goal is always to stay at our lakeside cottage for longer and longer stretches every year. A dear friend reminisces fondly of how, as a kid on the last day of school her mom would have the station wagon ready, and then would ceremoniously draw the curtains on the city living room for the summer, before they all piled into the car for two long months at the lake. I long to be of that ilk but am unable to achieve it – always called back to the city for a worthy occasion.
And so I make these epic drives – our cottage isn’t an easy two or three hours away – no, we built our retreat a seven hour drive for my husband, but what stretches to a crazy ten or eleven hour journey if I am doing it on my own. We’ll gather on the edge of the truly mighty Shuswap Lake (889 miles of shoreline) this July long weekend.
Three of our four kids will packed rushed bags and join us from different directions to barbecue, boat, debate musical tastes, and laugh late into the warm night, with sticky smores on our finger tips (okay, my finger tips). There’ll be other weekends packed with family or close friends, and after one full of farmer’s markets, bear sightings and cool swims, I’ll choose to drive back to the city. No matter how early my jump into the lake is – the one to refresh me for the epic trip home – by the time I’ve tied up the kayak and canoe, watered the thirsty geraniums, gathered up errant towels and bathing suits, taken the whip cream and sausage that would go smelly from the fridge, pulled the blinds and found the car keys under a hat – noon will be ticking in. My first stop is for a latte over ice and those super healthy cookies to take for the road at my favourite, EcoTreats in Scotch Creek.
Time travelled from the cottage – twenty minutes. Okay – get moving. Next stop – absolutely favourite fruit stand for juicy cherries or early peaches that I’m convinced are tastier than any to be found in the entire city back home – time travelled – another hour and a half. Concentrate now – third required break is from boredom of driving – so the town of Revelstoke.
I’ll wind my way into town and here I get out and move around, usually walking and talking to whoever I catch on the phone, circling the Alpine style streets of tall homes and flowery yards before I find one of several bakery cafes for another iced coffee drink and something gooey and sweet to help me with the longest stretch over the
Roger’s pass and over the Rocky Mountains. During this hour and a half of high mountain driving with no services, I tell myself, for the zillionth time, to pretend I’ve never seen it before and so to pass the time being spellbound by the epic beauty – but I have seen it and seen it and seen it – so when that part of the drive is over I am so ready to ease the car to a stop in Golden, B.C. Golden of the amazing wooden bridge and the last
B.C. fruit stand. By this time the fruit that I’ve already bought hours back smells ripe and succulent in the car, but I pack in more – some green pears, some tart apples and a medium sized watermelon.
My good husband is calling now, reaching me in this slice of cell service, never understanding how I cannot be home already. I push on, strict with myself now and contemplating a five hour energy drink for what is still a three hour drive. The little plastic pink bottle makes me feel awake just by looking at its magical capabilities all sealed shut in the cup holder. I manage to make it down through the mountains, past Field and Lake Louise, even Banff, but stop at Canmore just have to use the Tim Horton’s washroom and I don’t even want the six mini donuts that I reason can help the teeny bit of travel I have left to go zipping by. Oh, and I wash those down with an Ice Cap, calling my honey to tell him -that I don’t understand it either. Perhaps, I’m lifted up by aliens somewhere along the route, who are after my bounty of fruit and the secrets of relishing a short summer, and then deposited down on the highway again. I mean really, how could it take me twelve hours to do this cross country bountiful escapade?
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