Off The Grid in North Ontario – Fall 2018
November 2, 2018

Now that autumn has arrived, it’s getting chilly up at the cottage. It’s time to pull out the Hunter boots and start stacking wood by the back door so we can keep the home fires burning. I have to stop swimming about mid October but i try to keep up with my strokes until the last drop of summer is gone. Despite losing my favourite past time to the cold, fall is a wonderful time of reflection and beauty at the lake.

I found this love stacked in the log pile one year and was awed by its heart shaped interior. So much warmth and love inside.

We bundle up a bit more for canoe rides, which offer the best views of nature’s showy performance.

The Highlands, as this area of the Canadian Sheild is called, are known for their stunning displays of colourful fall foliage. People make special trips up here to see the leaves, which are breathtaking, especially reflected on a clear lake.

Photography: Arriz Hassam
Photography: Arriz Hassam

There is always that moment when the all the trees turn bright orange and the forest glows. As the leaves begin to fall, the light shifts dramatically. Because our house is elevated in the trees, the vistas through the branches into the forest are mesmerizing.

Photography: Jenny Francis

But these fiery hues don’t always steal the spotlight. My friend Jenny spotted this white fern amidst the red and orange on a forest hike one year. It was so fresh and crisp against all the muddy colours. I’ve looked at this shot many times for palette inspiration.

Photography: Arriz Hassam

In the evenings, we build a campfire on the beach, drink red wine and tell stories or listen to podcasts by the water. More and more, I appreciate how nature teaches us to be patient and wait to see things in a different light. See that lump in the water? It’s a rogue stump that shows up on different parts of the beach each year depending on the ice flow. I used to want to get rid of it, but now I find it comforting. I think of it whenever I’m about to tear something out during a renovation. Sometimes an eyesore winds up a thing of beauty.

Photography: Michael Graydon

The only source of heat in the cottage is the Heartland stove. It’s going almost all the time once the temperature drops. But the cottage was designed with several sliding doors that allow us to heat up areas in stages. It is incredibly efficient.

Photography: Michael Graydon

A pair of super-comfy Scarlett chairs from Montauk face the wood stove. They are nice and low — the perfect height for seeing the flames at eye level. You will find me cozied up in one of them every morning in the fall.

Photography: Michael Graydon

Nuts fall from the trees en masse and chipmunks dart back and forth gathering them for the winter — sometimes I do, too.

I also forage for trumpet mushrooms right in front of the cottage. They’re delicious in a simple pasta dish.

When the fog rolls in, the scenery becomes eerie and dramatic. I find fall so melancholic, as I think a lot of us do. At the cottage the sadness is magnified, because we know there will only be a few more weekends before we have to shut things down for the winter – unless we decide to brave the cold and trek across the frozen lake. We’ll see!