Stewart Lake near Mactier is one of the countless lakes that dot the Muskoka Region of Ontario, Canada, about 2 hours from Toronto. It is, real estate agents will assure you, a lesser lake, the greater and pricier lakes being Muskoka, Joseph and Rousseau. But Beauty has no truck with such opinions. Beauty serves the light.
For the past week, I observed Stewart Lake from its southern end, Kilty Bay. At dawn, it was as smooth and clear as a mirror. By mid-morning it was beginning to darken and ruffle under a NW breeze, the bane of sun umbrellas. As the sun went down, the breeze fell and the water began to reflect the sky, fading gradually back to silver as the trees blackened in the background, a black on silver silhouette. Some evenings, sunset glowed pink at the other end of the lake, deepening and deepening into a narrow band of vivid colour on the western horizon. One spectacular night, the entire sky turned mauve and the deep purple.
True a lake is watery as well as light filled and the fragrance of eau du lac haunted me night and day. Just breathing it seemed to heal the urban soul, beset this summer by power outages and road closures. It smelled like water lilies and wet cedar and earth and wilderness. (Well pseudo wilderness at least.)
It was home to a sizable otter and its frolicksome offspring and largeish fish that came up to feed at dusk and made undulating patterns like lesser Lochness monsters. A large hare scampered down for a drink. The deer, however, kept to themselves in the woods.
Stewart Lake has a squishy muddy bottom, an acquired taste for toes. It had very few motor boats while we were there, so kayaks and canoes could drift along the shore silently, an especially pleasurable experience when someone else is paddling. The tariff I paid was comedy: I sat in the bow and attempted to push off from the dock. The canoe didn’t move but I glided gracefully and silently off the seat onto my bum, feet in the air.
“Wait,” cried my sister Georgia when I had righted myself. “You don’t have a life jacket.”
No problem, we all agreed. If we tipped, I could walk back on the lake bottom.
Muddy, shallow and entirely beautiful!
(Click on pictures to enlarge.)