Experiences of A Lifetime On The
Limestone Rocks Of Manitoulin
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
To my left I see a wild Canadian boreal forest of junipers, balsam fir and eastern white cedar to my right I see the same sprawl of trees that hug the shoreline of the vast Lake Huron following the flow of the land like symmetry. Straight ahead I look South across Lake Huron towards Michigan, behind me I see a rustic log cabin made out of ancient cedar and tamarack logs poorly built, but loved dearly. Where am I? I am in my special place, a place so special and so unique that places like this are disappearing across the world. I am on Manitoulin Island, the largest freshwater island in the world. Almost every year I have gone up to my family's property on Manitoulin island for 5-10 days and learned qualities of a way of life that is simple and unique.
My grandpa on my father's side purchased the two thousand acres of land with much of it on the shore line more than fifty years ago. Since than my father has gone up there as a kid and throughout his life and now I am going up there with him. Living conditions has gotten bit more glamorous by getting a bath house which has hot water for a shower and a solar panel which charges some outlets. However we spend little time in the cabin so this does not matter as much as the wild on the outside. When I am up there at the place I always have a hop in my step because I know that I am very isolated from the rest of the world and not many people get opportunities in their life to experience what I am able to see, hear, taste, smell and feel.
Some people may say that I must get very bored up there and even my dad was thinking that I would be very bored if we had stayed there for more than a week. Last summer we went up there for one whole week which was long in my dad's view, but we clearly could of stayed longer because the last night my dad and I stayed outside until ten on one of the longest nights of the year finishing one of our projects. I believe that the reason I wanted to stay even longer is that I really was starting to enjoy and appreciate getting back to roots staying away from the rest of the world. I sometimes joke that the property would be the best spot to stay in case of an apocalypse because we are so cut off from the rest of the world.
With so many different things to do up there, I have started to learn skills that cannot be learned in Sudbury Massachusetts such as managing a forest, cutting firewood, and even learning how to make rough cut furniture out of old growth cedar logs, some are close on two hundred years. Where else can one see pristine shoreline dunes on a freshwater lake that glimmer under the setting sun. A tradition that I love is watching the glowing orb of red trickle through the tops of evergreens in the evening in skyline void of buildings, towers and roads. A second tradition I embrace is sleeping on the limestone beach under the stars staring at the vastness of the milky way. Nowhere else have I seen stars so clear and bright, nowhere else I have learned to live on the wild side, nowhere else have I learned how to use my mind, strength and family to such a degree, nowhere else but here.
I know that I am very fortunate to have the opportunities to visit such a wonderful place, however I cannot imagine myself if I had not experienced the memories and learned the lesson upon the discrete landscape that I have begun to appreciate.