By Luke Fenton
I live a pretty great life. I wear a uniform to school, have a decent car home, and best of all, I have my favorite place in the world. From my earliest memories I can still picture my family driving for what felt like 10 hours, but was really only three, to my dwelling on the lake. Once the ice is out and the animals are in, we crawl through the traffic, to our second home. Passing small boulders, which once seemed like mountains, I can tell we are getting close. As butterflies fill my stomach, and a smile arises, I can see the sign that reads, “Fenton Cottage.”
As we round the tight corner and I slam into my sister, now we are on the cottage road. I can hear the ground change from a hush to grumble. The trees step in closer. After the 6th, “Are we there yet?” I begin to see the blue behind the green. As we round the last corner, and creep into the driveway, I can finally say I’m home.
Opening the door, feeling as stiff as a rock, I hear that crumple of gravel beneath my feet. The cold wind pushes me towards the door; the turn of the icy knob causes a creak from inside. As I step into the musky room, I hear a crack from the floor. The smell rushes back to me, as memories of summer fill my head. Soon my family hurries in, and my Dad turns on the heat or lights the fire, I should say. My sister and I stare, as it plays off our faces. After my body begins to boil, I step away from the fire, and outside I go. Running through the paths I made as child, I finally make it to the water. Across the shoreline, to the boathouse below, I walk slowly, making sure I don’t slip on the wet rocks. Feeling the soft wood of the water-rotten dock, I open the door to my favorite gear of all, my rods.
I sometimes wonder how there could be so many gadgets for something as simple a catching a fish. I grip my rod, and throw it in the boat. I check for gas and then pull on the engine. The roar brings me back to hot summer nights and the rich smell of gasoline, which plays memories of learning to drive the boat. I slowly reverse, turn around, and then floor it towards the nearest fish hole. Feeling the wind in my hair and the sun on my face, I know I’m going to catch a fish. As the trees get closer and my hair falls back onto my face, I throw a line in the water. Careful not to speak, I can still remember my great uncle Tim saying, “Don’t talk! The fish will hear!” I can’t see them or hear them, but I can’t feel them, like a little city below my tin boat. I am the alien here to capture them. Suddenly, the line turns to rock. It swims through the water like the fish on the hook below. The fish is now my puppet. I rock it around, tiring him out like a runner in the race. As the marathon finishes, I see my prize. Green like the water, with spots of red and yellow, he shimmers in the bright sun. As the slime engulfs my fingers, I can feel my trophy getting restless. After a few short seconds of admiration, and a removal of the hook, I set him free to his city below.
As the fish heads home, so do I. Back to the wind I go as my hair lifts back into the wind. Shivering from the wind, I enter my cottage and back to the fire. The sun is setting and the smell of steak is wafting. The sun is two inches above the lake, looking like a scoop of orange sorbet. The light shines through the windows creating a peculiar design on the back wall. After filling myself with steak and potatoes, I walk outside. I can see my breath like the smoke from the fire. Rocks beneath my feet feel like ice as I stumble to the dock. I look out and see the ice and tree branch filled waters, like land mines to a boater. The sun has finally set, and so has the cold.
After sleeping like a bear, I awake to the smell bacon and eggs. As I follow the aroma into the main room, the sun pierces my eyes and the cold breeze from the open door rushes in. I shut the door, pig out on bacon, and grab a coffee to go. Down to the dock I go. Throwing on a coat and grabbing my book, I slowly make my way through the bright sun and thick trees to the dock. As I sip my coffee and look out to the water, I can see a perfect reflection looking back at me. The sun dives to the bottom of the glassy water revealing the hazardous rocks below. As I take a seat on the dewy Muskoka chair, I feel the cold sink through to my legs. Another sip of the crappy drip coffee, and a sigh of relief, happy to finally be back.