a peek inside the fishbowl

27 Aug, 2021

Holding summer in my mind

Posted by andrea tomkins in: travel talk

The cottage, view from the dock looking back

Seven days of nothing. This is what we signed up for at the beginning of the year when we arranged to stay at a friend’s cottage in Quebec in August. Seven days of no work, no stress (hopefully), nowhere to go, no to-do lists. When we booked it, we had many OMG moments in the interim, wondering if this little getaway was even going to happen. There was Covid, of course, border crossing issues and lockdowns, plus some family stuff … all of these things hovered around the periphery of our awareness for months but somehow the stars aligned and before we knew it, the time had come to pack up and GO.

The cottage is in the Val-de-Monts area; situated on a narrow river that leads to a small lake.

From the dock there’s a view of trees and clear water that flows by oh so slowly. It is the most accurate definition of ‘lazy river’ that I’ve ever seen.

View of the tiny river, from the cottage



The kayaking life

(The photo above is of the lake.)

We kayaked up and down that little river many times during our stay. In some parts it’s the width of a residential street, in others you find yourself squeezing through an opening with a dock on one side, and a field of water lilies on the other. The river is shallow. In some parts you can practically lean out and touch the sand with your hand. It’s clear, too. You move among darting fish, with lake weed occasionally stroking the bottom of your kayak as you paddle over underwater forests.

Kayaking down the river

One morning as I sat on the dock a great blue heron glided down the river, floating on the air as silently and effortlessly as the fish swim underneath. I blinked and it was gone.

Hummingbirds regularly zipped around the bee balm in the wild gardens around the cottage. I parked myself with a book and a beach towel right in front of the flowerbeds one afternoon so I could watch them. I could actually hear them coming. They hum and squeak! The calls of blue jays, chickadees, and nuthatches filled the skies while the sun was up, and crickets and cicadas filled up the other ends of the day.

Isn’t it interesting that it is only when we slow way down that we are able to observe the quiet and ordinary spectacle of nature around us? I saw hummingbird fights (they are territorial!), a family of blue jays chattering in a tall tree, a school of fish cutting through the water in a world of their very own. Those things happen whether we are there to witness them or not but I’m glad I was there to see it all.

Speaking of surprises in nature, Mark and I were kayaking down the river one day when we saw something we didn’t expect. He was ahead of me when I heard him shout: “It’s a pig!”
I seriously doubted my hearing: “A what?”
“A. PIG.”
“Whaaat? Did you say pig??
“Yes! PEE – EYE – GEE… PIG!” (He honestly had to spell it out for me because my brain was not able to connect the dots.)

And he was entirely correct. By the time I caught up to Mark I saw the wide back side of a large pink pig lumbering away from a wee muddy and hoof-trodden spot along the shore. Clearly it was its watering hole!

This was pretty much the last thing I thought I’d see while kayaking in Quebec cottage country but as it turned out one of the cottages along the river was a hobby farm. (This was confirmed by subsequent sightings of chickens, geese, and one sheep.)

Ah, it was nice to get away and relax, but also nice to come home again. It’s the mark of a good holiday, don’t you think?


Piper investigates

The tiny island

Terrier on Tiny Island



3 Responses to "Holding summer in my mind"

1 | Nora B.

September 2nd, 2021 at 8:33 am


So nice to see photos of J&D’s beautiful cottage. A wonderful place to get away for a little while from our crazy world!

2 | Peter G.

October 22nd, 2021 at 9:28 am


You know you are in a good place when even the dog is smiling. Looks like it was a lovely and likely deserved getaway.

3 | andrea tomkins

October 26th, 2021 at 2:47 pm


It was gorgeous and we had amazing weather. It went by too quickly… as it always does. :)

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our dog Piper who is kind of a big deal on Instagram. We also have two human offspring: Emma (24) and Sarah (22). During the day I work as a writer at the Royal Ottawa Mental Health Centre. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999. The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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