tree graffiti

Carved into the bark of a tall tree by the lake, now so overgrown that we cannot make it out, there is an aged message.

carved initial tree graffiti

Unmistakably, a heart; perhaps, some letters, that old declaration, one plus the other. Did a young lover cut initials into the tree? Was it the old botanist, great-grandfather of the lake, who built our cottage, and the great-grandmother who designed the place? Such a sweet old fashioned sculptural proclamation of love.

to the lake

A full year after leaving the old cottage in the English countryside for the Pacific coast of Canada, we have found home. On the island, on a lake, in a cottage. A moment at the lake, and we all knew it. A month at the lake, and it has all fallen quite astonishingly into place.

paintbox lake

I first stayed in this cottage on Teanook Lake half my lifetime ago. It keeps reappearing in the family, this place. My grandparents built a house around the corner a good forty years ago; some of my cousins grew up here.

mirror lake

The old fishing village is now a handful of cottages. There are no motors on the water to disturb, and if there are ripples on the water it is the wind, the ducks, a swimmer. The water nurtures each cottage, and everyone cares for the water. Great, vivid connection.

raining lake

Despite its position just a few miles from the city, and the odd sounds that carry over now and then, the lake feels like a faraway place.

lake mist

Like the rolling hills of Sussex that we’d gaze across, like the mountains and ocean in my childhood home in the cove, this landscape is in constant, exquisitely beautiful change.

lilylake.s.jpg

I find a new plant in the garden each day, we see another animal, another bird. The sheer variety in creatures and plantlife here is astonishing. Indigenous stories.

splashing lake

Yet if there’s one thing that I longed for in a home, it’s to be where we are living in the landscape, not just looking at it. Drinking it! Eating it! Diving into it.

childhood lake

There are great possibilities for us here, a million stories. Shall I tell you them? I look forward to it. We’re dreaming about so much. Keeping hens, keeping bees, growing and gathering food. Wild swimming, boating, fishing. Days and days of playing outside with friends. And setting up the old school studio to have workshops here!

storybook lake

It is so good to be home.

(Don’t miss a story from appleturnover on-the-lake. Sign up for the postcards.)

fishing lessons

On the lake we are learning to fish. My young cousin taught the girls patiently, and reminded me of knowledge I had years ago, fishing with grandfathers and uncles, on rivers and oceans, fishing for goldeye, rock cod, salmon. Our Finnish heritage is fine-tuned to forests and lakes, you can see us all settle in the way you do when you get home.

fishing-lessons05s.jpg

This lake is tiny and perfectly formed. It was named Teanook Lake by Emily Carr herself, who rode in on her buggy to paint it nearly a century ago. Can you picture her here? With a flask of tea, I think. I’ve been photographing its beauty daily, in all its Monet-like changes, and could go on for a lifetime. My tall girl wants a paintbox to continue the tradition.

fishing lessons

Getting the hang of angling isn’t so hard – and then, oh, what a pleasing game. The arc and whistle, the bobbing movement, the timing, the winding and watching. The tension of the line! Catching it with your finger, holding til you let go at just the right moment – I tell you, the knitters in my history met the fisherfolk, and they nodded in appreciation. Any sort of practice that requires silence, stillness, observation, a bit of skill, I love it. If this was your only opportunity for meditation, it would be enough.

fishing lessons

My tall girl got it quickly and landed a small fish on her first go – it was exuberantly celebrated and promptly sent back. In less than a moment the children fell in love with fishing on the lake, and they want their own tackle, their own rods.

fishing lessons

How I’ve longed to return to fishing! It took me a few tries to remember how, it’s been easily 30 years since my grandfather took me out for my own fishing lessons on Winnipeg river. We’d stay in a spot for a matter of minutes; if there weren’t any bites we’d move on to another. My father would nap, hat over the eyes. Once, as a small girl, I caught eighteen goldeye in a row. My little Finnish grandmother would race up the steps to the old family cottage and down to where the fish were cleaned and smoked. I can recall the flavour like it was last night’s dinner, and see my grandfather eating fish soup at the red gingham-covered table. I didn’t know then how lucky I was.

Oh, we’d race down the dock and jump into that river after a sauna as I’d love to jump into this lake – without a sauna it’s still too cold for wild swimming, this rainy late May.

fishing lessons

I bet all the old folks would be deeply pleased to see the next generation of cousins out on the dock together, still fishing. It pleases me ever so much.

Do you love learning old-time skills too? You might like to see the the old school movies. Don’t miss my next projects, get the postcards!

sprouting celery

At this moment, we’re in a cottage on a tiny lake in the woods, at the southern tip of Vancouver Island. This cottage was in our family one way or another for twenty years, through fascinating circumstances, and I have vivid memories of it. It is exquisitely beautiful here, the sort of place one never wants to leave. But it isn’t the lake I wanted to tell you about, just yet. I have a project for you. Our neighbours are wonderful, and took us through their beautiful vegetable garden. One of their projects is so utterly astonishing and inspiring, I can hardly choose whether to sit down and show you or rush off to do it myself, right this minute.

celery rooting

It isn’t pretty like a lake, I know, but bear with me. My friend found this idea by way of another friend, by way of Pinterest, by way of a lovely site. I pass it enthusiastically along to you, like a fine recipe. Sprouting celery! Simply cut off the base of the celery, and sit it in water for a couple of days.

celery plants

Then plant it. The new celery will spring up from the old plant, rooting down like a cutting, sprouting up like cut-and-come-again lettuce. Goodness, how pleasing is that? I declare I shall set my children to sprouting a row of them, immediately. There are many other plants you can try this with. I think so. Edible science projects, my favourite.

I’m feeling like Monet about his lilies, when it comes to making images of the lake, if you’d like to see – and more about its stories here soon.