The End Of An Era

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It’s gone. There isn’t much more to say. The cabin we loved for just shy of a decade is gone. It was lovely. It was where we spent our best time as a family. Babies learned to walk. The kids caught frogs. We saw fireflies, owls, and pelicans. But it couldn’t be saved.

An insurance fight of epic proportions. Being led on that it could be repaired. All to end with a bulldozer.

We put off going up to see the lot as long as we could. We could never have been prepared for the sadness. Seeing parts of our life broken in the dirt. Little toy cars, a mug handle, some spoons.

Our kids tried to play as if they were “at the cabin”, but it was gone. It was strange, we still owned the lot but it was dead. People have said to us “this is an opportunity”, it isn’t, we have lost a huge part of our life and a huge part of our family.

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What people don’t realize is you can’t rebuild memories. The cabin wasn’t a building it was a memory maker. None of us have the heart to try to rebuild on the lot. It will never be the same.

We knew our neighbour was interested in the lot, but no official offer had been made. On Friday we went to see what to do with the property. Do we sell, rebuild, camp? We tidied it up as best we could, weeded the flowerbed, trimmed back some saplings, but it was like dressing the dead for a burial.

We pretended it was normal. Took pictures of the trees. It was all wrong.

We did one last picture of the family, like we had done every year since buying the cabin. The kids are bigger, everyone smiled, but the cabin was gone. A family standing in front of nothing.

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What an ending. We remember what we had and it is so sad to see it gone.

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Our little cabin was lovely. It was home. It was family. It felt right. Nothing else will ever be the same.

Pretending all was normal, pretending all was fine, we took one last look at the lake.

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On Saturday we received the formal offer. The lot is being sold. It is a very sad end to an era.

Winter Cabin Visit

Today I am sharing a few more images from our February visit to our cabin. I am focusing on the beautiful rural scenery rather the disaster happening inside the actual cabin. Blue sky and snow make for stunning images.

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Trees in the cabin’s backyard.

Winter roads.

Winter roads.

Footprints and trees.

Footprints and trees.

Blue sky and leafless trees.

Blue sky and leafless trees.

The last picture is one of my favorites. It sums up why it is so great sneaking away to this part of the world.

blog lake isle_3902 aPhotography by Debra Hunter.
www.debra-hunter.com

 

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Water Pumps, Frogs and Memories of May 2013

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At the cabin October 2014.

 

So I have been watching the stats for my blog over the last 12 hours and noticed significant interest in our water situation. I even noticed a few people looking back to a cabin post from May 2013 where we were talking about setting up the water system for the season.

It was really fun to re-read the post and step back in time, so this post is going to be a little reminiscing and a little bit of comparison.

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The water pump.

 

As I re-read that post from over a year ago I was thinking, I bet most people on municipal water have no idea what a water pump looks like for a cabin. So I thought I would share a picture. Luckily  on October 4th I had taken a picture of the pump .

The pump sits in the pump house, a tiny room connected to our cabin yet accessed from the outside. The pump sits on a metal grate so if there is ever any leakage the water goes down into a pit below. The incoming water comes from an external 1250 gallon tank through the water line you see on the right. The water then goes through the pump and goes into the cabin through the water line on top. A little different to just turning on the tap for municipal water.

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The external water tank.

 

I would like to thank whoever was reading that post for reminding me of it. I was really fun re-reading it and having the chance to think about cabin life and how it changes from year to year. The post from May 2013 discusses my husband hooking up the pump and fixing 4 leaks. As I look at the picture of our pump it tells the story. Look at how overdone the clamping is on our pump on the top section. Three clamps. This is the story of that weekend. That weekend while he re-hooked up the pump after winter, he would hook up the pump and it would leak at that junction. He would re-hook it up and another leak. Did it again at another angle and the pressure popped the tubing from the fixture. So after four attempts he said “forget the one clamp system”, clamped a longer section with multiple clamps and he never had a problem again. I am sure anyone who has ever set up one of these pumps is laughing at the number of clamps, our “security measure”, but it is better to be safe than sorry.

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May 2013

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May 2014 – no water in the back field

 

The picture above is also from that blog post of May 2013. This is the area behind the cabin beyond our fence. Our yard is raised about 2-3 feet from the area at the back that becomes wet in the spring. Looking at that picture I started to think about how the various years are different at the cabin. Actually the first thing I thought was “this year we had no frogs in our yard”. When we first owned our cabin we had tons of frogs in the spring; the kids would chase them, and hold them, and there were really big ones living in our wood shed. I am not sure if we even saw one on our property this year, quite sad really. I know we saw frogs in ponds at the Wagner Natural Area west of Edmonton, and frogs in Gaetz Lake in Red Deer (Alberta, Canada), but none at the cabin.

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Frog in Gaetz Lake, Red Deer, Alberta. May 13 2014.

 

I mentioned this to my husband as I re-read that blog post and then another thing hit me, the post talks about the septic holding tank, that is buried deep in the ground,  filling with groundwater in the spring. This is a real “thing” in our area. I remember many years ago, going through many of pump outs in the season. Once my husband asked the pump out company if it was normal, and they laughed and said it is happening to everyone and that they couldn’t keep up with the work load. This evening, after reading the post I turned to my husband and said “How many pump outs did we have this year?”. He wasn’t sure so we went back through our cheque book. In our true geeky style we decided to look back over a few years. In 2011 we had three pump outs. In 2012 we had four pump outs. We can’t find the 2013 cheque book at the moment, obviously in a “safe place” or filed with my business receipts. In 2014 we only had ONE pump out.

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Cabin marigolds 2013.

 

I knew the pump out bills were way down, and that I had to water the flowers a lot more, and that we had no frogs, but it is really quite surprising when you put it all together. The question is, was it a “dry year” or is it actually “climate change”? It is a little surprising to compare the years, to see the flowers struggle more for water and to see the frogs disappear, but when you realize the groundwater issue (even for a tank buried so deeply) has also disappeared that is interesting and worrying.

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I truly  thank he person that brought my long ago blog post back to my attention. I love looking back but I am also now thinking to the spring. I wonder if we will have frogs…..I certainly hope so……..but the trend isn’t looking so good.

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Storm Clouds Over Lake Isle

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View from Hoffman Beach.

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View from the bridge near Baybridge.

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View from Hoffman Beach.

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View from Hoffman Beach.

I was glancing through a few images this afternoon looking for some painting inspiration. These pictures are from last weekend when we were up at the cabin and stormy clouds hung over Lake Isle all afternoon. The cool weather this spring has meant few cottagers have been out to their cabins and has made for a very quiet lake. The quiet has been very nice.

The Skull

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Venturing down a dusty gravel road a few days ago we came across this skull. An interesting way to decorate a fence with some true western flavor.

There is always something interesting down a back road in the middle of no-where, always something to see, something to discover, and sometimes you find a little inspiration.

Inspiration may just be what I have found in this skull. I am imagining the next fibre art piece with a skull surrounded with stitching and beading. Sounds like a project to consider.

 

Art & Photography by Debra Hunter
www.thehuntergroup.ca

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Mayflies!

Here is the post everyone has been waiting for!

(Yeah right!)

Every year at our cabin we experience one or two mayfly weekends. A mayfly weekend is pretty hard not to notice. The sides of our cabin are coated with mayflies. There is a constant buzzing and humming as the mayflies swarm. A step onto the grass sets off another swarm, and if you dare open the door to the cabin the little invaders invite themselves in to fly near the house lights all evening long.

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Mayflies

We went to the lake and got swarmed. We tried to rake the flowerbeds and got swarmed.

Mayflies on the fence.

Mayflies on the fence.

We went to check out the noise at our neighbours and saw this…….

Mayflies swarm over the roof.

Mayflies swarm over the roof.

Even sneaking into the cabin meant dealing with these flying creatures. We left the light on at the front and went in the back door in the dark hoping to lessen the number of indoor mayflies.

Mayflies by the light over the door.

Mayflies by the light over the door.

Mayfly weekend is definitely something to see, however remember to keep your mouth closed when outside or you’ll have a not-so-tasty flying treat in your mouth!

Cabins and Snow

It seems like this week we have been on the move a lot. We drove back from the coast (close to 24 hours door to door), got everyone settled in work and school, then discovered insurance didn’t cover snow load on the cabin so it was off to the cabin this weekend to sort that out.

As usual we didn’t get going early in the day, so by the time we made the almost 3 hour drive we were starting to see the sun go down. The clear winter sky gave us a beautiful sunset over a frozen Lake Isle (Lac Ste. Anne County, Alberta, Canada).

last turn in the road before the cabinThe last bend in the road before the cabin gave us golden light to admire and then it was time to get down to business.

snowed in cabinThe cabin had definitely seen its fair share of snow. We were able to slog through the thigh high snow however our two youngest that joined us on the trip had a few more problems.

kids navigating snowOnce the snow passed their waists we realized that playing in the snow at the cabin wasn’t exactly working as they were completely stuck. While Mark pulled out the ladder and started clearing the roof I shoveled out a mini road through the snow for the littles so that they could at least walk up and down and play a little. Littles settled, up I went to help Mark on the roof.

clearing snow off the cabin roofclearing snow off the cabin roofThe snow was heavy and thick once we got on the roof. It was much deeper than it appeared from the ground. Mark took one side and I took the other and got to work (and moaned a bit about how much snow there was!). We shoveled until we were out of light and then called it a day.

winter cabin at nightWe managed to get about two feet of snow off the roof before darkness set in . It might not be perfect but a lot of the weight was now off the roof. We took a quick moment to take a look inside the cabin and all was safe and sound exactly how we left it when we put it to bed in October.

cabin interiorcabin fireplaceThe cabin was tempting us to stay, but we were three kids short (they were having dinner with the grandparents) and hadn’t brought water. Now we are thinking “maybe next weekend”. Perhaps this is the year we should open it up early, go for a snowshoe and get a big old fire roaring in the fireplace.

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The cabin, close up, and other things.

cabinAs fall is in full swing, and the temperatures have started to dip at night, we decided it was time to start closing up the cabin for the season.

empty roadThe roads are empty.

lake isle, albertaThe lake is quiet.

fieldfieldThe colors in the field are golden.

stacked woodThe wood is stacked.

last fire of the seasonYet we enjoy one last fire.

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We tidy the cabin.

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We put the beds to bed.

emptying the bird boxWe empty the bird boxes.

empty chairsThe chairs are empty.

family timeWe treasure the time we had as a family.

I often blog about time at the cabin and I am sure many wonder just where it is. Our cabin area has unfortunately been in the news lately. The train derailment that occurred at Gainford, Alberta this past weekend is just across the lake from our cabin. We hear the 1 a.m. train every weekend and that very same train is the one that derailed and sent fireballs flaring. We were lucky this past weekend, a few kids fighting colds kept us from going up for the final close up. Luckily we avoided the smoke and the traffic problems, which is minor compared to the families that have been evacuated and have had farmland burned to the ground. Hopefully final close up will happen this weekend.

(Warning: today is municipal election day in Alberta. As I watch the numbers roll in this evening I know the scene is building for a very immature post from me tomorrow. Just thought I would throw out the warning!)