Bob’s Lake Borders and Border Crossing

11 Aug

These are pine trees that my mother and my Aunt Alice planted on the southwestern border of the Bob’s Lake property about thirty years ago.  They put in twenty trees and seven have survived.  There have been quite a few droughts in that area and, of course, no one is around to water them on a regular basis, so the ones that have survived are close to the lake.  There are also other pine trees farther inland that have grown on their own.

Mom’s and Aunt Alice’s mode of operation was to dig big holes and put in cow pies from the farm that we go through to get to the cottage.  Then they would insert a pine volunteer.  Whenever she came Mom would try to water them and I think the seven that lived show that her efforts were worthwhile.

A split rail fence also goes along the border, a fence that is wrapped in wire, something my father did after a big group camped in the lot next door.  One night around the same year as the tree planting, we were woken up by a large group of kids who were drinking and, according to my brother, probably using drugs since they were still awake in the wee hours.  None of us was getting any sleep due to their singing and loud talk, so my father and brother, Barth, went over to investigate.  They had started to take the fence apart and were burning one of the rails.  This is akin to burning antique furniture.  My father and brother asked them to stop burning the rail and to quiet down.  Both of them were big men, but they knew that they couldn’t take on a group that size, so they were careful about what they said.  Later the Bob’s Lake Association helped my parents go to court and get a designation for that lot of “no camping.”

It’s funny that I care so much about borders now when I’m at Bob’s Lake, when I was so oblivious to them as a child.  For a child, borders are for crossing and that’s pretty much what my brother and I did.  We would come to the lake with stacks of books: mine included Miss Pickerrell Goes to Mars by Ellen MacGregor and Edward Ormondroyd’s book  Time at the Top, while his included the Alistair McClean booksWe then set about our own adventures. The initial undertakings were boat trips we took with our parents to places like the mica mine and Whiskey Point. On my own, I would venture out to my favorite apple tree on the farm, climb it, and then sit there reading a book.  It never occurred to me to worry  I was sitting in someone else’s tree in someone else’s orchard.

To a child, having the right of way through a farm was not far from owning it.  Not long into our summers there, an older girl from a neighboring camp took us on our first spelunking adventure.  Something about the combination of limestone and granite on the farm had contributed to the development of caves.   I remember the first time I crawled into a cave: the air felt cool on my cheek and there were rabbit turds underfoot.  I figured I didn’t have to worry about bears because the cave so obviously belonged to a rabbit. Despite the lack of stalactites and stalagmites, I was hooked.  Naturally my brother and I both got poison ivy and our parents warned us against further such exploits.  Of course, we were not deterred.

Our adventures on other people’s land continued on Bob’s Lake at several different islands that were near our cabin.  Because of the Forever Green Law that protects Canadian islands, what looked like public land with no sign of habitation was often private.  People who already owned cottages on islands were grandfathered in. My brother and I would take the old boat we inherited from the previous owners and set off for an island across the bay.

One day when my brother was about ten and I was about fourteen we scrambled into the boat and headed out for a picnic.  We motored along, and then finding that there was an attractive cove, moored our boat, and tied it to a nearby tree.    Setting down a tablecloth, we opened our lunch basket and took out our sandwiches.  After quickly dispensing with the food, we lolled back in the grass.  The sun made us sleepy but the grass was dry and crinkly from a long season of drought and uncomfortable.

Our parents had allowed Barth to buy some “ladyfingers” at a Canadian store: these were small red firecrackers on a string–considered perfect for young boys because so little could go wrong.  Or so we thought.  Firecrackers were illegal in most of the United States and there were good reasons.  But Barth was so excited that he had brought his miniature firecrackers along.  After several successful throws, he threw one down and a small seven-foot tree burst into flames.  Visions of our parents’ pending financial ruin appeared before our eyes, along with our possible excommunication from the family.  This was the kind of situation that started wildfires.

Barth grabbed our bailer, a coffee can, from the nearby boat, and started scooping up water and throwing it at the tree, while I grabbed a towel from the boat seat, drenched it in water and threw it over the top of the fiery branches. Both of us continued our ministrations, going back and forth from the lake to the tree.  Ten minutes later the fire was out.  When we had returned to the cottage, we told Mom and Dad what had happened, ever mindful of what could have taken place.

These days when I walk on the road from our cottage through the farm I often look wistfully at the big trees with their low slung branches.  I will occasionally venture out ten feet into the property for an especially pretty flower, but I have heard that the owners would rather not have other people on their land and I can respect that.  I remember the caves with fondness because we were so daring, but now that I have seen a couple bears on the property I don’t fancy repeat adventures.  Once I went over the fence to remind the owner of the nearby camp that no one could camp on the lot.  He remarked that I was standing on his property and I responded that it would be pretty hard to talk to him from my own.   Later I realized how fussy I had sounded–how carrying a grudge against the new owner for something that had occurred years before his ownership made me sound petulant.

This last time at the lake with my mother we walked over to her pine trees and marveled at the growth, but it was the beauty of the trees that we remarked, not their location.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: