The winter had had little snow, much of which had
disappeared in town. Neighboring small lakes and the ponds that had
formed in many of the farmer’s fields had perfectly smooth surfaces.
Our destination was a small secluded lake ... and we had brought our
We were not experienced winter campers, but rather summer campers
with some experience. We walked along on a beautiful sunny morning, full
of excitement, looking for adventure. The guys, confident with unproven
ability, the gals, apprehensive of mishap but trusting in the male
Two hours of snowshoeing brought us to the small lake resurfaced by a
recent thaw. The woods were a mixture of white and brown patches: brown
where wind, rain and sun had allowed the grasses of last summer to poke
through; white where the snow lay slyly covering hollows, cleverly
hiding their depth until tested by the traveler who might sink two
inches or two feet.
The search began for the ideal camping site. During the last five
years, much of the lake's periphery had been harvested, leaving no dense
woods. We settled on a young fir thicket, isolated in the middle of an
open area, which offered a scenic view of the lake, abundant boughs for
a springy mattress and dead standing trees for firewood. After a hearty
lunch, a lean-to frame was erected, coated with balsam-smelling branches
both on the sloping roof and the floor. Logs were propped up to serve as
fireside chairs. A mountain of firewood was collected, cut or broken to
length and stacked. In true Boy Scout fashion, a wobbly camp table was
constructed from small branches. As the daylight faded, we were feeling
satisfied with our preparations, and we began to relax and look forward
to an evening of good food and a little drink, mixed with provocative
and stimulating conversation.
Potatoes in tin foil were nestled around the margin of the fire; a
batch of bannock was mixed up and set to baking. Juicy steaks laid out
on rickety wooden supports soon began to sizzle. We huddled warm and
smugly contented around the fire, sipping red wine from Tim Horton
travel mugs. Supper was a relaxed, leisurely affair followed by a simple
clean-up, involving little more than lightly rubbing the dishes with
snow. Occasionally we would look up from the dancing and crackling
flames to a starless sky. By the time we were finished eating, a light
snow was falling. The night air from beyond snuck into the glow of our
fire pit and the evening changed from pleasant to magical. We gazed out
over the frozen lake and watched big lazy flakes of snow falling. In
spite of the cloud cover, it was a bright night.
We took our skates, walked down to the lake's edge and laced up. By
now a skim of snow less than the height of a skate blade covered the
surface. Each couple set off arm in arm, leaving behind a patterned
trail of wiry prints. In the darkened setting, the snow cover seemed
like a cloud. You couldn't see what was ahead, but had to trust and have
faith. The ice surface was perfect, no ripples or bumps. We skated out
to the middle of the lake, then the two couples parted and in big loops
skated back to where we had begun, our trails roughly outlining a large
heart. There was perhaps an inch of snow down before the moon burst out.
The air, no longer filled with downy flakes, glittered and twinkled with
We skated for an hour or more before returning to the comfort of the
fir where we were able to gaze down on an intricate pattern of skate
trails and dog tracks that recorded in detail everywhere we'd been. We
had a cup of cocoa, then retired to our fir-laden shelter and fell
asleep, looking up at the moon and a few brave twinkling stars.
By morning, just enough snow had fallen to cover all our tracks. Our
world was pristine. It was like the previous night had been a wonderful
dream. After a breakfast of thick pancakes slathered with maple syrup
and a mug or two of coffee, the males donned skates once again and set
off, this time pushing a makeshift snow plow, making snake-like trails.
Various games and play where devised, and eventually the ladies joined
With reluctance we packed up and headed home, knowing that we'd
experienced a rare time, when adventure, romance and beauty had all come
together to create a magical experience.