Wednesday, July 18, 2012


I watched sunrise looking west this morning. I’m on the Lake Huron shore, aka “Ontario’s west coast”. It’s a long long stretch of sand rimming the enormous subtle blues of the lake that runs from the Bruce Peninsula all the way south to Sarnia with few interruptions. I’m near Grand Bend, staying with friends at their cottage.  There’s an oceanside look to the shore here, but that’s lovely silky fresh water out there, and the waves are all from wind, not tides.
Back to the dawn display this morning.  I went out about 6, into the humid cool air, the sky a pre-dawn milky pale.  As I came through the trees and down the steps  onto the soft sand, I was lit by an orange-gold burst of light to the southwest, high in the sky. It was a ‘birth of a new world’ kind of scene: a vast pillowy cloud glowing with almost lava-like intensity, a rich pink-orange light. On one side of the huge cloud cauldron lurked a blue-grey menacing slice of clud and on the other a line of golden small cumulous towers stretching across the southern horizon.   
The sun was low and out of sight behind the shoreline and trees, perhaps not up at all yet, but the cloud was high enough to catch sun energy and reflect it back - quite magical. It was a Tiepolo angels in clouds ceiling painting come to life, and me with no eyes to see the angels!
I slipped off my sarong and waded into the “breakers” (the incoming waves curl into foam as they hit the sandbar out from shore) and then swam toward that high outsized glowing cloud of light. Between us the water radiated back a line of cloud-brightness, a brief shining path. 
As I stood drying myself and staring at the clouds, there was a rumbling and more rumbling. The glow of gold was fading, the cloud’s molten feel had gone, and then suddenly there was a spectacular vertical fork of lightning, and a second, long and skinny.  I listened for their thunder, but couldn’t distinguish it from the ongoing low rumblings. 
And now, nearly half an hour later, the rumblings continue though the cloud mass has moved east. There’s a feeling of expectancy, with no wind and the humidity climbing. Mother Nature has more surprises for us, TBA.
Sometimes her surprises are not beautiful or pleasing but instead just a hassle. So it was the other evening when we sat outside for supper. The cottage here is on a ridge made of old grass-covered sand dunes, so it catches the breezes and has a view out over the vast radiant blues and greens of the lake.  But as we were eating we were joined by a crowd, a crowd of what my friend calls “beer bugs”, small black insects with little white bands across them. They don’t bite; they just intrude, onto plates, into glasses of wine, onto hair, etc.  One of us was not drinking wine (or beer) and she was not invaded. And I guess that’s the reason they’re known as beer bugs: they’re attracted by the smell of alcohol. I’ve never seen them before. Are they special to Southwestern Ontario? Very strange.
And on to some more appetizing thoughts about food and meals.  Last night my friend R made salmon fillets, lightly brushed with olive oil then cooked skin side down under the broiler for five minutes, or slightly less. They were perfect with a Petit Chablis. 
My part of the meal was a mushroom salad: sliced portobello mushrooms dragged through olive oil mixed with a little soy sauce and Thai curry paste, then grilled. (My usual pre-grill bath is oil and fish sauce, but there was no fish sauce to be had.)  Grilled mushrooms are so succulent, all meaty and tender. And then I added to them a food new to me, fine strands of kelp that look like glass noodles, now being packaged and sold by a California company. They add wonderful texture to salads, and get coated with flavour. I also put in some chopped green onion, small half-slices of local cucumber for crunch, a spritz of vinegar, a dash of sea salt, and a generous squeeze of lime.  
There was a bowl of blueberries and “canary melon”, very sweet, with a squeeze of lime, for dessert, and a wonderfully ripe and ready Camembert from Normandy alongside.
When there are appreciative flexible eaters, and with the clear air and lounging lazy ambience of a cottage on the lake, everything is so easy to make and it all tastes so good.
Back to the city today, through the bleached hot farm landscapes of this year’s drought-oppressed summer. The dawn-of-the-world promise of the golden cloud, and the silky feel of the water from this morning’s swim will carry me through the drive and the chores that lie ahead...I’m sure of it.

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