I live in Ontario and cottage country here is among the most beautiful in the world. (I know because foreign people have told me so). We have been blessed every summer to visit dear friends at a cottage in Lake of the Woods near Kenora.
Now this week at the cottage is pure bliss. Boating, fishing, gourmet foods, campfires, massages, and more laughs than you can imagine. My daughter describes it as “being at the best resort in Ontario – only the owners love you.” That about sums it up.
We have been going there every summer for 15 years. This is one of my favourite stories:
One time, when the kids were very young, we had a rare rainy day. Stuck inside the whole day, we had exhausted all the games, and watched all the videos, and the kids were getting snarky and bored. My husband Blaine noticed the rain had eased off about 5:30 in the evening and told the kids it was time for the Great Northern Bear Hunt.
He got all the kids – my three and their two – and set off down the driveway to the cottage road. “First thing you need for a Bear Hunt” he told them, “is the perfect bear hunting stick.” The kids scampered into the woods to find the perfect stick – sharp, easy to carry, but strong enough to pierce the tough hide of a bear. Blaine seriously examined each stick until all five kids were properly outfitted.
Then he told them that they needed to practice their bear hunting attack scream. Each kid had to show that they could scream at the top of their lungs, whilst rushing forward and brandishing their bear stick. He had them work in different attack formations as they headed down the cottage road towards the highway. Now I think the three older kids knew that this was an exercise in imagination, but they were good sports and participated enthusiastically. The two younger kids, at 3 and 4, were paying deadly close attention to each instruction.
After about 45 minutes, he figured that they had blown off enough steam to settle down for dinner and had them head back down the cottage road towards home. When they turned off the cottage road onto the driveway of the cottage, Blaine was shocked to see a large, black bear standing in the middle of driveway between the kids and the cottage. Everyone froze.
Suddenly, the two youngest screamed their best bear hunting screams and tore off towards the surprised bear. “No!” my husband screamed as he took off after them. Luckily for us, they had with them on their walk one of natures most perfect creations – a labrador retriever. In a flash, the lab rushed at the bear, putting himself between it and the children, all the while barking like the devil himself. The bear took one look and scrambled off into the woods.
The two little ones were quite disappointed that the dog had “spoiled their first bear hunt”. My husband was weak with relief. What were the chances of actually meeting a bear at that time of day, and on their own driveway? It wasn’t even garbage day!