... and What Is It?
Now that we are almost ready to depart, I finally find ... or make ( take your pick) the time to describe Riverwood's location just a little more fully and to throw open the question: "What is this place?"
Our location is easy enough to describe: on the southern lip of the Ontario portion of the Canadian Shield, several hours drive from the country's largest city to the southwest and about the same distance from Canada's capital to the east. We are not terribly far north: well below the 49th parallel that forms much of the Canada/USA border. Although this might surprising many, we are south of both Seattle, Washington and London, England.
I suppose that from my recent spate of snow-dominated photos, that one might be excused for thinking that we must be much further north than that. It is even difficult for me to conceive that in our home town, only about a five hour drive away, today's temperature is -2C while it is -19C here. Basically, at home, we're positioned to be moderated by the proximity of the Great Lakes, but, here, we're away from their moderating effects.
The aerial photo shows our site in some detail. The green line represents the boundary of the 125 acre (approx) property. The house and yard are contained within the red circle. There are three paths, two of which — the orange and the yellow — are trails or paths that have been cleared. The orange logging road has long been cleared, but the yellow Riverside Ramble was hacked out of the woods just this past summer. The blue line is a marked but decidedly uncleared trail that we follow on occasion: when we are feeling both energetic and adventurous. It ends at a little cemetery on the edge of the property.
Can you tell from the photo that the bulk of Riverwood is forested? "Why does he ask such an obvious question," you might ask.
Well, the family is divided on what to call the place. You see there is another family property not far away: on a much smaller piece of property on which stands what has lately become a somewhat rundown shack. That bit of land has been in the family for more than thirty years and has always been called The Cottage.
When this piece of property was purchased about eight years ago, the family began to refer to it as The Farm in order to distinguish between the two properties. We also call it Riverwood, of course.
I have no problem with designating this as the farm when we are referring to it within the family circle because we all understand exactly what we mean by the term. However, some family members insist on also referring to it the farm when speaking to people who have no prior knowledge of the place. They speak of the glories of the farm and how wonderful it is to spend a month here.
Frankly, they receive rather blanks stares for their troubles because, if you say farm to almost anybody on the planet, that person conjures images of cleared land, fields of crops, cattle grazing, and barnyard animals milling about. I see actually can these people trying to come to grips with the notion of anyone being so exuberant about passing their lengthy holidays in such place. To the average person who is not privy to the eccentricities of the family lexicon, it doesn't compute.
That's why, when speaking to the uninitiated, I always make an effort to remember to refer to it as a cottage (which in other parts of Canada and the USA I would be call a cabin or a camp). People seem to comprehend that: place in the country, water, trees, maybe hills, perhaps rock outcrops, rural area, sparsely populated. And that really describes this place.
Well, there you have it: a little bit more information about this place that we are to depart shortly, and a little bit about our difficulties in coming to grips with how to describe it to others.