Reflections from North of 70 and my friend Bob


North of 70

 “At the old cottage”

 Since my last message I have transferred my base of operations from the little apartment in downtown Ottawa to the old family cottage in Southampton on the shores of Lake Huron.

 I have been coming here since I was knee high to a grasshopper which, in my case, was over 70 years ago. This old place is as much part of me as I am part of it. Every room in the cottage is a repository of memories, some of it culled from family albums.

 I am especially happy to be growing old with the cottage, though I hasten to say that it is 20 years older than I am. We will celebrate its hundredth birthday in five years time. I would say that we are roughly in the same kind of shape, still sturdy and presentable though with lots of scratches and dents from passing time. Both the cottage and I have settled a bit over the years, the cottage in its northeast corner and me all over by an inch or two.

 The two of us have something else in common – our age is a matter of some controversy. I remember a dear friend, who loved the cottage, telling me that her grandchildren would never be willing to stay overnight in a place this old because it would give them the creeps. It is a known fact that dust and sand gather in the corners and that spiders more or less have the run of the place. Similarly, some of the young are slightly uncomfortable in the presence of old folks like me. They have trouble figuring out where we fit in the great scheme of things or whether they need to take notice of us at all.

 There are others who love the cottage and are especially interested in it because it is old and represents their idea of what a cottage should be. Every once In a while people out for their evening stroll along the sidewalk by the lake will stop in front of the cottage to say hello and take a good look. I sometimes invite them in for a tour which confirms their stereotype of old cottage as falling somewhere in the continuum between rustic cabin in the woods and old house in town. During these tours, I take advantage of the opportunity to play the part of the wise old man whose memory extends back to the ice age. To enrich the experience further, I sometimes make up stories because cottage and story go together like horse and carriage.

 Speaking of horses, as I was sitting on the beach before sunset last night, there suddenly appeared before me three horses and riders. I was surprised and delighted by the sight of these large beautiful mythological creatures making their stately ways along the sand. Then, as if to give me the memory of a lifetime, one of the horses paused in its stride, bowed its head and gently rubbed the side of its head with a hoof. If I live to be a thousand, I will never see anything more graceful than that.

 My best wishes to you for the month of June

 Bob Miller

Southampton, Ontario

June 9, 2017

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