Flowers at Mazinaw
Oil on board
24 x 36 inches
©W.W. Muir (date unknown)
a cottage from my mother's uncle and aunt. My mother's
sister and her husband rented another of the three
cottages my great aunt owned. We were not a chummy
family with dozens of relatives coming in and out of
our house most of the time. But at Lake Mazinaw all
that changed. My father usually spent his two weeks
holiday there, but my mother and my two brothers and
sister usually spent a month or so there with my father
coming up on weekends.
My memories from those summer days are some of
the fondest from my childhood. Because we were all
family up and down the forested path next to the lake,
we had many meals together, and the adults laughed, joked
and played cards with one another. The cousins, my aunt's
two sons and our brood of four played in the water on rubber
rafts and later putted back and forth lazily in motor boats, or
canoed carefully exploring the lake. If you Google
Mazinaw you'll discover that it is the second deepest
lake in Ontario. It was once the haunt of artists and
writers, and there's a Walt Whitman poem chiseled into
the face of Bon Echo rock, which is an impressive
100 meters high.
My dad was a strict man, but he relaxed at the cottage.
He loved going out in the canoe with my mother and
heading for some remote spot to take beautiful photos,
his second passion after painting. This painting hangs in
the bedroom I usually stay in when I visit my mother.
It is of a swamp flower, and I don't know the name of
the species, but if you do you can tell me.
I've grown to love it over time for its simplicity and
the confidence my father felt in painting by the time
he produced it. Now I love it because it speaks of
his love for the days at the lake, that remain locked
in my memory, like the sparkling sun on the water,
and the smell of bacon, eggs -- my mother's home
made bread toasted and slathered with butter and
her wild strawberry jam. I can smell pine needles and
imagine sitting out under the stars at night, or listening
to music on the radio and dancing with my sister in our
cabin far from the main cottage. I spent my summers
there from the time I was two until I was 13. Then
my father and uncle couldn't agree on a price because
my father wanted to buy our cottage, so the deal fell
through and we quit going there. We moved from
Ottawa to Toronto, and I've been up to the lake just
once since that time.
So once again art connects me to my father and our
too short time together on the planet. Here's to you dad.
On this frosty night in Toronto I'm dreaming of our halcyon
summers at Mazinaw.
Have a remembering-your-childhood-summers day