After a spell of pleasantly warm weather the summer days recently turned hot and then cool again. But no matter what the temperature we have seen (and felt) a lot of moisture in the air. There has been frequent rain, and a surprising number of thunderstorms, their clouds crackling with lightning. The storms roll through on the edges of each weather system that passes, and often herald a sudden change in temperature.
The trees and vines and wildflowers on the hill and in the park around us love these conditions and they are growing merrily. Cones are hanging from the tips of the large pine trees’ branches. The sumac flowers are blooming a deep red above their drooping leaves. On the hill dead tree branches hide among the leaves and blossoming wildflowers line the path, though in some places they are being overgrown by Dog-Strangling Vine. I don’t know about dogs, but this vine does overwhelm and strangle small plants.
In places the paths we walk along in the park come much closer to the edge of the lake than before. The spit along the outside of the marina is much narrower than it once was and its edge is unstable. Here and in the park some trees are tipping raggedly over the edge, others are growing stubbornly among the rocks and still others have fallen into the water and been washed away. I am trying to find out whether there are plans to restore any of the land and the protection it affords, but so far I do not know.
Despite the rain and thanks to the effort of the International Lake Ontario-St. Lawrence River Board (they control water flow through the Moses-Saunders Dam and balance the needs of those on the lake and downstream, as well as commercial shipping) the water is finally going down. Fixed docks have been emerging, looking washed clean after their long immersion, and along the shore the now mossy rocks and weathered construction debris originally used to build it up are visible where the sandy soil has been washed away. The geese and ducks are happy, since they have safe places to stand that are out of the water but not of the land. And the ducks have more algae to feed on.
In between the bouts of rain Richard has been working on repairing our side decks and part of the cockpit floor. It has been a dance with the weather – needless to say fibreglass does not cure well when rained on, and since it is not really waterproof it’s best to finish it with paint or gelcoat as soon as possible. Sometimes as soon as possible is a couple of days later, but so far so good. There is just the cockpit floor to finish, and then we’ll be almost ready for the insurance survey that is to be done next week, this being that fifth year when the insurance company requests it. A good thing we had started the repairs before we knew or we would be really scrambling now.
Repairs to the side deck were much easier without the mast in place, so we waited till they were done to put it back up and put our sails back on. That did not stop me from moving some of the stuff that had taken up residence over the winter out of the boat, or packing our winter clothes back into the ‘cushions’ that line our main cabin berth. In a fit of tidying I cleaned up corners, threw out what we should not have kept in the first place and moved a few things into our dry-land storage. We are just about at the point at which it would not take long for us to be able to go sailing without too many forgotten things sliding onto the floor (there are always things you forget before the first time out).
After some discussion we did not take our heaters off the boat, and these past few days we’ve been glad we made that decision. We have had some cool days and cooler nights. Richard reminds me that it’s August; I say that August ought not to be cold!
Our latest innovation – or should I say my latest? – is a couple of pots of herbs, growing, a-la-Pinterest, in yogurt container pots held in plastic sweet cider bottles with the tops cut off and modified to fit on a piece of batten that is hanging from the knobs that hold our window curtains. Intrigued? We went away for a week, and though I used hemp wicks to keep the soil moist the plants were not happy when we came back. I’ll take a picture when they look happier – or perhaps when I replace them! And since I’m not at all sure that the arrangement will survive a hard sail we’ll probably leave them behind when we go racing weekend after next. Just in case. I just have to figure out where we can put them, especially since our dinghy is still in need of repairs and not in the water.
Then there is our tailor-made fitness program developed specifically for (and by) us. It consists of walking up the hill to our favorite coffee shop, a trek which we have decided should just about walk off the calories we consume there and induces a slight shortness of breath into the bargain. We have been rising later recently, but since we really enjoy those warm muffins at Seraphia we try to make sure we get there early enough to get them. Walking down doesn’t count in the same way – it doesn’t challenge our legs or our lungs as much as walking up does. We had planned to add in lots of sailing, but that will begin with the sail to our first race. The best laid plans…
Now, let’s see: what else do we have to do before we race? Run those reefing lines, make sure the lifesling is properly secured, check our safety equipment, check our navigation lights – time to start that list.
We’ll report back after all the excitement.
Written by Margaret Mair
Photos taken by Margaret Mair