Friday, May 8, 2015

Gliding over Earth's Eye

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements gray,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

W.B. Yeats

Paddling Through Reeds, photo © Margaret Buffie

It is almost time to return to the lake. In Manitoba we never refer to any lake by name unless giving directions to it. No ... if someone asks me, "When are you going to the lake this summer?", they are referring specifically to my lake -- the long narrow waterway in Northwestern Ontario that breaks into two wide bays like the head of a double hammer. I live on one of those far quiet bays every summer. This is the same bay where my grandfather pitched tents with his wife and family in 1918 - and with like-minded friends from the railway  -built a beautiful log cabin using the pine and spruce that grew on his property. 

My parents moved across the bay from my grandparents and built their own log cabin - their three small daughters (at the time) in tow. My father was a young German from the North End of Winnipeg and he was taught the art of cabin building from my English grandfather.

Lake time was a time for coming together as a family. And for me it was a time to be vigorous and useful  by helping in my own small way to clear land and to help strip the rough sticky bark from the spruce and pine logs that would eventually become our three-room cabin.

It was there that my own fragile and uneasy self began to set sturdy roots deep into the peat-sandy ground. A place where I felt safe. Free. Happy. I could breathe there. I could fish with my father in the old flat bottom boat. I could canoe by myself, under the watchful eye of my parents, until it was time to float around the bay on my own. It was a secret world. A magical healing world; separate from the bustle and stress of school, the city, and all the anxieties a young introvert like myself drifted through all winter long, in a watchful, absorbing way. 

My Manitoba prairie roots grew much slower and really deepened when I started researching my father's German Galician family, and understood the many complex and deep struggles of their immigrant lives in Manitoba. I am an unabashed Manitoban, too!

As each year went by, my lake roots grew deeper - as did my father's. Sadly and most grievously,  my dad died from cancer when I was twelve and my mother took over the care of our cabin, as well making sure we spent as much time there as possible. Her roots also went deep, as she grew up in my grandparent's cottage until she married. Those were tough years without our dad, but all four girls (we had another sister by then) never missed one summer at the the lake. And we still don't.

We also don't have a road onto our lake land. When I was first married we cross country skied in in the winter. But it was hard going and the old cabin was not insulated. My husband was a teacher - so we finally decided as we got older that we would keep our lake time to two months every summer including most weekends until freeze-up. Together we built our own cottage on the property. Meanwhile, all winter long, I could and can still only dream of the cabin, sitting under layers of snow waiting for me.

In a few weeks I will be back again. To the quiet solitude of time alone, as well as time shared with my own family. But as soon as I walk the paths behind our cottage, my roots will dive deep again. Walking around the lake, and into the forest I will take my camera and my eyes and learn so many more secrets of the boreal forest. In my canoe, in the as I paddle each misty morning and quiet evening through the bays and the islands and marshes, I will heal, and change and become me again - gliding on Earth's eye. 

My Old Canoe The Beetle Photo © Margaret Buffie

The Lake

"In spring of youth it was my lot
  To haunt of the wide world a spot
  The which I could not love the less -
  So lovely was the loneliness
  Of a wild lake, with black rock bound,
  And the tall pines that towered around."

Edgar Allan Poe

Coming Storm:  Oil on Canvas © Margaret Buffie

The Marsh at Twilight, Oil on canvas, © Margaret Buffie

"The white heat pales the skies from side to side;
But in still lakes and rivers, cool, content,
Like starry blooms on a new firmament,
White lilies float and regally abide."
Helen Hunt Jackson

Frosted Water Lily Photo Art © Margaret Buffie

Splendid White Water Lily © Margaret Buffie

"If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water." 
Loren Eiseley

Angel's Wing Mist Photo © Margaret Buffie

Early Morning Glow Photo Art © Margaret Buffie 

Rainbow in the Water Photo Art © Margaret Buffie 

"Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be 
unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a 
childhood summer beside a lake… "
Diane Ackerman 

"Arrival at the Dock", Watercolour, © Margaret Buffie

"A lake carries you into recesses of 
feeling otherwise impenetrable." 
William Wordsworth

Note from Margaret: Across from our property is a high bank of rock. When the water was low last year, this beautiful form appeared combining rock and water to create a beautiful arrowhead.

Slopping Rock (below) is called this by our family because when waves hit against it, you can hear the slop and slap of the waves echo across the bay.

Arrowhead Rock Photo  © Margaret Buffie

Slopping Rock Photo © Margaret Buffie

"A lake is the landscape’s most beautiful and expressive feature. It is earth’s eye; looking into which the beholder measures the depth of his own nature." Henry David Thoreau

Trees Giving Thanks for Another Sunrise Photo © Margaret Buffie

Early Mist Photo © Margaret Buffie

Light Veils of Cloud Photo © Margaret Buffie

Darkling Light Photo © Margaret Buffie

Into the dream and the distance
    Of the marshes that southward lie,
With their lonely lagoons and rivers,
    Far under the reeling sky.       

     Across the silences of night.

Sundown on the Marsh Photo © Margaret Buffie

Serene Bay Photo © Margaret Buffie

Storm Moving In Oil on Canvas © Margaret Buffie

The sound of colors is so definite that it would be hard to find anyone who would express bright yellow with base notes, or dark lake with the treble.
Wassily Kandinsky

Yellow Lily Photo © Margaret Buffie

Dark Warning Photo © Margaret Buffie

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore. . . .
I hear it in the deep heart's core.” 
William Butler Yates

 Water Lapping Against Rocks Photo© Margaret Buffie

Slow Rolling Waves Photo © Margaret Buffie

Moody and withdrawn, the lake unites 
a haunting loveliness to a raw desolateness.
Dale Morgan

Silent Sunrise 6 am Photo © Margaret Buffie

"Paddling Into Morning Mist" Oil on canvas,© Margaret Buffie

Storm Brewing Photo © Margaret Buffie

Hail Clouds Forming  Photo © Margaret Buffie


amy said...

Simply magnificent, Margaret! I love everything about this gorgeous post. You are an artist in every sense of the word, and I love that your early roots were formed at your gloriously beautiful, peaceful lake in northwestern Ontario. Your essay is lovely, your photos enchanting, your painting so marvelously expressive. Thank you for all you so generously share. xoxo

Amy Neighbour VanEchaute said...

Simply magnificent, Margaret! Your essay, these marvelous photos, your beautiful paintings! You are an artist in every sense of the word. Thank you for sharing your lovely lake in northwestern Ontario with us. xoxox

Margaret Buffie said...

Amy, Thanks so much! I have been homesick for it for all winter, but really homesick now, as I know the time is coming closer to be there. But felt better after posting this. I'm so happy that you enjoyed it! xo

Tamara said...

(just what I was going to say Amy) - Margaret, I too absolutely loved everything about this post. Your lovely words, stories of the lake, and your pictures and paintings - exquisite! Thank you for offering up this beautiful bit of paradise. ♥

Margaret Buffie said...

Tamara, thank you so much for taking this time to write to me. And for saying such lovely things about my blog post. The lake is the most wonderful gift my grandparents gave to all their family. Every one of us loves the northern land they chose for us and for generations to come. A wonderful legacy ... and we remember them every time we pass their first cabin with our loaded down boats! My granddaughter said this week that her "heart" ached to be there. Soon! xo