These last weeks of summer have flown by, barely noticed by my eyes trained firmly on my worktable. Major deadlines have loomed and I have been hard at work producing a parade of new book work and images. When I have finally raised my eyes to the window, I see that Lady Autumn is advancing through the woods outside my home. Her beauty dragged me outside to photograph her golden riches and to draw into my soul the spicy scent of turning leaves. Autumn is my most favourite time of year.
Once the urgent deadlines had been met, my family and I were able to take up an invitation to visit with some friends in their cabin in the BC woods. Last weekend, we ventured to the very outer boundaries of Kootenay Park to join the party in this wonderful back country cabin above the banks of the Kootenay River. Two hundred and fifty acres in the farthest forest reaches beyond the boundary of the park, 20km down a forestry road, we found the loveliest, warmest and most welcoming rustic wood cabin. Filled with wondrous items from a more graceful past, everything about the place did our hearts good.
For most of our life together, we have been fortunate to live in lovely period homes. We spent 11 years renovating a beautiful farm foreman’s cottage in the Norfolk countryside called Merry Thoughts Cottage. We spent those years filling it with heart and soul and love and laughter, and eventually with the tender voice of our child. Originally built in 1730, the cottage was of clay lump construction with walls 18 inches thick, deepset windows, original pamment floors and a huge fireplace. I poured my love and longing for our elusive family into the soil of that place, building a beautiful cottage garden lush with roses. We added a rose for each anniversary that passed, and the garden was my joy. Renovation was a true labour of love. We finally took our leave of Merry Thoughts Cottage in 2000. While working on buying a house in a different part of the country, we enjoyed renting a succession of stunning period homes, from
a Victorian cottage
on a small private estate
to a converted
stable house in the
grounds of a large
We both revel in the age and tradition of things, being surrounded by an environment with grace and history and craftsmanship. Since returning to Canada, and coming to live in Canmore, our homes have been new and modern and we have ached in our roots for the age and history of our former homes.
And so, to find ourselves in this warmly welcoming cottage, softly lit by candle-light and oil lamps, warmed by a big old 100-year-old range glowing like the heart of the place, we slipped into its ambience as though we had always lived there. This is a very ‘us’ kind of place, and to enter the warmth of its embrace eased our souls on a deeply subliminal level. Good food and conversation, fishing and treasure hunting and walks in the woods, autumn colour and the tallest aspens with the whitest boles I have ever seen, like something out of a Clarice Cliff painting. Beautiful, welcoming, the place and the people just wrapped their arms around us and hugged. Amongst the treasures, as you can be sure I would spy from a great distance, was our host’s family Underwood typewriter from the turn of the century.
We were made to feel so welcome, and could have stayed there forever. We wish we could have stayed longer, but we’ve been invited back again soon. I’m thinking a winter break with snowshoes will be called for . . . .