May 7, 1917 Planning for Dr MaCallum

May 7, 1917

I received a letter from Dr MacCallum today. He is planning to come the Friday or Saturday before Victoria Day (around the 19th) and go for a two or three week canoe trip. That will take quite a bit of planning and I haven’t yet told him of my plan to have an art show on Victoria Day. A three week canoe trip at this time of year is a bit ambitious for him. I’m sure I can convince him that three or four days will be good enough. But I will plan for full length of the trip just in case.

The canoes are fine. I have my own and the Doctor will rent one from the Frasers. He is coming with his son. To even the company out, I’ll ask Charlie Scrim to come along. We’ll be two to each canoe. Charlie is not a hundred percent fit (TB) , but his canoeing is quite good so we’ll be able to switch parties between the four of us with no combination having a big disadvantage.

Planning for a three week canoeing affair is not trivial. The trout fishing should be reasonably good, so we don’t need to take too much bacon or ham. Annie’s got lots of bacon on hand, so I’m not worried about that. I’ll need bread, tea, sugar, plus canned stuff. Chocolate is hard to get. So is coffee and the evaporated milk (canned is rare, but I may be able to get the powder). He is not sure about staying at Mowat Lodge, but the Highland Inn instead. I mentioned that to Shannon, and he said it’s easier to start the Canoe trip here instead of hauling everything to Cache Lake. I’ll write in my letter to convince him to stay at Mowat Lodge.

The later the spring is, the harder it is to sketch. When it’s cold and wintry, it’s yourself, the isolation and the resolve to paint. Later in the spring, everyone and everything is curious on what you’re doing. I was sketching when three deer came up looking for something to eat. The Colsons have made it a habit to feed the deer by the Hotel and they’re becoming tamer by the day. First they come to the Hotel and then they wander down to the Lodge looking for more. I feel sorry for these deer because when the deer-kill starts, they’ll be the first to go. The gnats and ants have also taken an interest in my sketching. It’s either the smell or the crumbs left in my pockets that they’re attracted to.

Shannon got a letterĀ from the Trainors that they will be coming on the 18th. Hugh asked Shannon to check the cottage out and make any minor repairs so they won’t have any surprises when they come. Usually cottage neighbours do this for each other, but the Blechers have made a point of being so unfriendly, there is not a bone of reciprocity left between them and everyone else near Mowat Lodge. I’m not sure what it is, but I think the rich American tourist attitude has rubbed off on them. They’re quite willing to pay for services rendered, but it’s beneath their pride to think of Park employees or residents as equals to help each other out in times of need.

I’ll help Shannon out with getting the Trainor cottage ready. There shouldn’t be any issues. The biggest problem with cottages around these parts are wildlife (squirrels and chipmunks) getting in and making a mess, or poachers breaking in and stealing any useful stuff that’s not nailed down to the wall. Every once in awhile, a closed up cottage burns up during winter. The only possibility is a poacher that is careless or wants to cover his tracks once he’s stolen everything he needs. I’ll also help clear up the shore in front of the cottage. After the spring flooding it’s a mess of logs branches, rotten bark, left high on the shore. It makes the shore look like hell, but after a solid couple hours of work, I’ll have consolidated enough for a spectacular bone fire. After a couple of more days of drying, it’ll be ready for burning. For me, it’s the lighting of shore bonfire that marks the beginning of a new season. Once the bonfire is lit, it will no longer be spring.

I should also add that all of the snow is gone now. I looked hard earlier today in the bush and in the northern facing hills All that remains of winter are the snowmelt lakes (glorified ponds) that will turn into marshy spots. The peepers love these little lakes and they try to do their thing and procreate before it dries up and they have to move on. There’s no other creature (besides a spring-sketching artist) that is governed by the sensitive timing of spring. Things too early or things to late can be a disaster either way. But so far, everything is timing quite well.

The floor in the bush is still brown from the leaves of the previous fall. The trilliums and wildflowers are pushing out everywhere and there are the occasional shoots of grass. The flowers have to quickly take advantage of the light before the leaves come and there’s no longer light left. As I wrote earlier in springtime, everything is sensitive to timing and rhythm. That applies to trees, peepers and wildflowers. I explained the importance of timing and rhythm to Daphne. And that’s why I’m glad of the timing that Florence is off to Ottawa, and it’s another week before the Trainors and Winnie arriving.

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