Dig the cool satisfaction of not knowing – A Houseboat Studio on Lake Temagami

This story by the amazing Zen Priest,  Mako Voelkel, brings back art and water memories in Temagami. But hey, not to dwell in the past.

The Cloud Mountains

We were visited by an incredible woman on the lake this year. Caryn Colman, who founded Smoothwater Outfitters in Temagami has been floating about the lake in a houseboat studio this summer. Here she is here in the back end of the boat:Image

As a lapsed painter I found the whole visit on her boat quite inspiring. Just the evidence of creative endeavor and the thought of spending the summer months floating along in such beautiful surroundings pulled on something deep within me.Image

ImageHouseboat docked at boathouse: Here we can see the inside of her boat with Water’s ghostly image behind a reflection of the lake. He’s examining a selection of prints to add to the cottage. In the background we see a few letters from the sign of the boathouse (Camp Chee-ko) through the front door of the boat.Image

An example of Caryn’s work – Clouds and Water…

Image

And…

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Meet Anahareo, Mrs. Grey Owl

Anahareo 1906-1986

Paharomen Nahareo Flaming Leaf Gertrude Bernard Gertie Pony and Mrs. Grey Owl. Was she perhaps more multiplicitous than her husband Archibald Stansfeld Belany Washaquonasin Grey Owl? Prospector, dogsledder, wilderness woman, animal rights activist, published author, and Order of Canada. Let’s give Anahareo her due. And by the way, unlike her husband Archie, she was ‘full blood’ Indian.

Anahareo was the impetus behind Grey Owl’s transformation from trapper to conservationist. She was the one who arranged his first Anahareo 4speaking engagement at a local hall in Metis Beach, Gaspé Peninsula. (That one evening eventually led to an annual international pace of over 300.) And she was the one who fashioned and beaded his ‘Indian’ clothing, to help him with his image.Anahareo

Her first marriage to Grey Owl had the glitter of fame. Her second marriage was to a Count. Count Eric Axel Moltke-Huitfeldt, a member of a Swedish noble family who lived in Saskatchewan and later Alberta. I cannot glean whether he was a wealthy man. But he was a Count, which as Einstein says, what can be counted doesn’t always count, and what counts can’t always be counted. So dear reader, you decide.

Anahareo 3When you read about Anahareo’s life, action after action shows her to be a woman who defied the stereotype of a female European, aboriginal and Catholic. She was a feminist of the early 20th century.

And so, even though I invented my recipe Grey Owl pie in honour of Archie, I dedicate my recipe, to Anahareo. Wow. She is someone I’d liked to have met.

 

Grey Owl Pie

An original recipe by chef Caryn Colman. Yields 6-8 portions There is no owl in the pie.

Grey Owl pie banks on the local ingredients historically available in Temagami, back in the day: cabbage, apples, onions, carrots, potato, flour, and fat.

As a chef, I’m taking some creative license by using duck fat (even though wild ducks have no fat), and purple cabbage (probably an unavailable variety in early 20th century Ontario) for the sensual pleasure of colour.

Production of Grey Owl pies

Ingredients for one large pie

½ purple cabbage / 2 apples / 1 large onion / 4-6  carrots / raisins (or currents, dates, or cranberries) / 1 cup apple cider ( or juice, water, or dark beer) / salt, pepper, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, caraway seed (or dill, celery, fennel, or loveage seed), apple cider vinegar.

Method

Heat a large cast iron skillet –the kind you always find in the backwoods cabin — and add a good dollop of fat. Add your cabbage shredded, and onions sliced. Don’t worry too much about the precise cut because when you braise, everything melts and marries together.

Sweat all these ingredients. Combine enough raisins, spices, and cider vinegar to give the dish a sweet and sour tang, and the liquid.  Now you add your diced apples (I don’t peel. I’m lazy). Cover to braise and let it all simmer down. From time to time remove the lid, stir, judge the liquid amount and recover the lid or not. Cooking time could take about 40-60 minutes. You can easily prepare this a day or so earlier, for it holds well and the flavour marriage improves.

Meanwhile your potatoes can be boiling, in preparation for a mash.

Shred and blanch your carrots, toss with caraway seed.

We’re almost finished. But there’s more fun….

Preheat your oven to 400. When all ingredients are cooled, assemble your pie shell starting with a layer of braised cabbage, then the shredded carrot, topped with a nice dollop of mashed potato. If you wish, and especially if it’s cold outside (those Northeastern Ontario winters are brutal in a bush cabin), top with a little more duck fat. Bake for about 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown.

Serve with a heavy bread and slow-roast duck (that’s where you got your fat supply), or any kind of rich meat of your choice.

 

Hi everyone. I’ve landed in Toronto. Sort of.


All is well. I’ll be back to fill in the gaps soon. The magic keeps coming. Keep the faith!

After a lovely ride harvesting wild apples and wild cucumber.

After a lovely ride harvesting wild apples and wild cucumber.

James is telling me to clean up my act and get those stories out! He's a real helper.

James is telling me to clean up my act and get those stories out! He’s a real helper.

Simply the Best Meal I’ve Had In TWO Months

At G’s Slow Smoke Bbq in Baldwin, Florida


Yep, it’s true. After living two months in West Palm Beach Florida, I can say that G’s Slow Smoke Bbq in Baldwin is the best restaurant. (Dairy Queen doesn’t count).

The smoke house and restaurant

The smoke house and restaurant

Unpretentious but full of downtime style, really clean, and simply delicious, ‘G’s should be on anyone’s list on the USA Bbq tour.

The famous 'G' and me

The famous ‘G’ and me

‘G’ is a serious Bbq competitor. And he wins. How can I get ‘G’s Bbq in Canada? Maybe I’ll just have to drive back down to Florida.

Gary and Tanya Nelson, my hosts in Bryceville, FLA.

Gary and Tanya Nelson, my hosts in Bryceville, FLA.

G's Slow Smoke Bbq brisket

G’s Slow Smoke Bbq brisket

G's Slow Smoke Bbq turkey

G’s Slow Smoke Bbq turkey

Challenge of the Americas: Breast Cancer Fundraiser at the International Polo Club

Blessed are they, those who have and those who have not. Some get cancer, some do not.


A little glitz, a little pride, and lots of love. All given by those touched by breast cancer. And who hasn’t been touched?

Team Show Chic quadrille

Team Show Chic quadrille with Mary Cameron-Rollins, Angela Peavy, Hannah Michaels, Jessica Rhinelander, Ariana Chia, Klendy Muller.

Purina quadrille

Purina quadrille with Betsy Steiner, JJ Tate, James Koford, Pamela Goodrich, John Zopatti, Bent Jensen. Coached by Bill Warren & Terry Gallo.

Purina quadrille ground support

Purina quadrille ground support

Team Show Chic with coach Erin Swaney.

Team Show Chic with coach Erin Swaney.

“The Challenge of the Americas, known throughout the equestrian world for its spectacular performances on horseback, returns for its 12th Anniversary to continue its fight against breast cancer. This annual fundraiser is a one-of-a-kind affaire that highlights the equestrian sports of Dressage and Polo. Competing riders include the “Who’s Who” of the top equestrian competitors in the United States, Canada, Latin America and Europe.”

Team Show Chic ribbon runners.

Team Show Chic ribbon runners.

My dressage coach, Erin Swaney, was choreographing a musical freestyle quadrille to a medley of music including Shirley Temple and Melissa Etheridge. She needed help with her team, Show Chic (sponsored by same store in Wellington), and she needed help (not the riding kind). So I volunteered and was put on theatrical ribbon duty, but ended up shooting lots of photos. I almost felt useful. Instead, I had a chance to study Erin’s young riders’ team up close in training and performing. I’m terribly inspired by their backs (you non-riding readers may not understand this), solid, supple, fused with the horse. That’s the secret of controlling your horse’s every limb at this finesse level. Easy to say….

Team Show Chic baton acrobat.

Team Show Chic baton acrobat.

Groom and expert braider

One of the grooms.

Palm Beach style

Pure Palm Beach style and breast cancer survivor.

Horse sticks

Ribbon writing

Show Chic Ribbon memorial signing.

Parker Seley/Merill Lynch team rider.

Parker Seley/Merill Lynch team rider.

The ribbon girls on break

Girls from The Emerging Dressage Athlete Program (EDAP), helping as ribbon runners.

Clearly, everyone participating had a super horse, superb tack, elegant turn out (from the likes of Show Chic), a groom, horse transport, and the means to work on improving their equestrian art. More importantly, they’ve had support from an early age, a history of mentorship, and the passion to learn. But what will always keep my jaw on the floor, is that these horses eat better, and live cleaner, than most people in the world. Blessed are they, those who have and those who have not. Some get cancer, some do not.Colour pinkLinks:

The Breast Cancer Research Foundation®www.bcrfcure.org.

Play for P.I.N.K.®, (Prevention, Immediate Diagnosis, New Technology, Knowledge) is a 501 (c)(3) grassroots organization dedicated to raising funds to fight breast cancer through lifestyle and sporting events.www.playforpink.org

Help us raise money every time you shop on Amazon. By using this link, Amazon will automatically donate a percentage of every transaction to Play for P.I.N.K.
http://smile.amazon.com/ch/22-3503952

Southern Hospitality & Guardian Angels

Southern hospitality is when someone thinks you’re lost, they approach you, escort you to your destination, and invite you to stay at their home. Horse, cats, and all. Next they’ve made you coffee, treat you out to fine dinner, and tour you around their Tennessee neighbourhood. That’s what happened with John Haynes and his wife Pat.

But Johnny was more than that to me. My guardian angel was working through him.

John and Pat in their Santa elves Christmas outfits.

John and Pat have a sense of humour.

I was hauling my mare on a quiet side road, scouring road signs. In my truck’s side mirror I saw the Sherriff’s vehicle blinking lights. Whoops, I said, why am I being stopped? As far as I knew, my truck and rig were compliant. But what the heck, I like cops. Maybe I need to know something. Constable Haynes politely inquired if I was looking for Catoosa Ridge Stables. Yes, and apparently I had missed my turn.

I would never have found Catoosa without his help. Worse was I was the only one at the campground. Not another horse, camper, or trailer to be seen. You see, folks in Tennessee don’t ride if it’s not above 50. It had been cold and rainy all week. But it was my destination, and after the last two dives in Big South Fork, it was a welcome sight. Catoosa’s barns were new and professional. Stall floors had not been pawed away by anxious horses. Heat permeated the large guest lounge which had expansive cushy sofas. There were washrooms and showers with hot water. I would have stayed but as a single woman, wisdom prevailed. So did John Haynes.

John kept asking me if I was crazy to be staying there alone like that. His wife Pat said she wouldn’t have slept all night knowing I was there by myself. The rest is history.

Community service is John’s life work. He is blessed to have found it in law enforcement and criminal investigation for sexual child abuse. Johnny puts people away for good. In 2014, the National Children’s Advocacy Centre awarded John with the Outstanding Service Award. By the way, John is also blessed to have found Pat. They are a wonderful couple, the kind I seldom encounter, and hope to create for myself one day.

Southern hospitality extends to animals as well. At the Haynes farm, Georgia spent a calm, contented night for the first time in 5 days. She’s not restless in her stall, she’s calmly munching her hay, drinking water, and musing about the geldings basking in the moonlight in the paddock beside her.

Georgia at the Haynes' FarmIt’s not easy traveling with two cats and a mare. My days are defined by distance driving to stable Georgia, meeting her equine needs, and exercising my cats.

So after 6 weeks on the road and 7 stables (or so-called), I took sanctuary with John and Pat for 9 days. We started 2015 off right with a New Year’s Day trail ride at East Fork Stables, slow-cooked beef stew for dinner, and equine massages all round.

John & Doc

John & Doc on our New Year’s Day ride at East Fork.

Pat & Romeo

Pat and her pasofina Romeo, on our East Fork New Year’s Day ride.

Caryn and Georgia at  East Fork Tennessee, New year's day 2015

Caryn and Georgia at East Fork Tennessee, New year’s day 2015

Lost in Big South Fork National Park, Tennessee, with Georgia Grace

“Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost but now am found. Was blind, but now I see.” John Newton (1725-1807)


As a trail rider, I have always had a perverse desire: to get lost in the forest while on horseback. It would force my courage to test the adage: “If you ever get lost on your horse, just give her her head.” Yea. Let the reins go long and loose. She’ll find her way home. I’ve read that carriage drivers would fall asleep at the helm, knowing their horse would self-drive back to the barn. Could it really be true?

Caves in Big South Fork National Forest

Caves in Big South Fork National Forest

How do horses do it? Find their way home to an unfamiliar barn, to a place hardly experienced? Do horses have a such an instinct? Homing pigeons for example, take their reading from the sun, and internally calibrate their direction home. Is it a scent that horses follow? They certainly sniff the ground and sometimes leave their droppings. But it is not a territorial imperative like dogs.

For that matter, how do we do it? Us humans? How do we find home, decide where to live, what our right livelihood is, who to love? I flounder with it all.

It was December 29, rainy and cold. I knew I was starting my trail ride late at 1 p.m. But I have faith in Georgia Grace, my mare. And I have faith in my Canadain cold-blooded wilderness skills. I took a compass, map, cell phone, and whistle. I would be fine even if my ride ended at dusk. I just needed to keep an eye on my time and destination: Bandy Creek Campground and Stables, in Big South Fork National Forest, Tennessee.

Creek and River junction, Big South Fork National Park

Creek and river junction, Big South Fork National Park

But it didn’t work out as planned. I dallied on the trail, letting Georgia splash in a deep stream. Sometimes I dismounted to help her walk up the big hills. Photo opps were too numerous to resist. We were behind schedule, but so close to our destination. We had to push on.

And it was worth it. The Bandy Creek Campground was impressive. Large, gray barns loomed up from the misty afternoon. Rolling meadows invited a good gallop. The facility appeared clean and sturdy. But not a soul was staying. We’d be all alone—no horse or person in Tennessee endures camping, or even riding, in the cold, which to me, wasn’t really cold at all.

Typical barns at Big South Fork National Forest

Typical barns at Big South Fork National Forest

Typical stall, Big South Fork

Typical stall, Big South Fork

Our return ride proceeded well, and I thought we were home free. But we met an intersection with two arrows pointing out different trails to the same destination, the Cumberland Lake trailhead, I became confused and disoriented. But I wasn’t scared, or desperate. I reviewed the map carefully. Even if we took the long way home, we’ll still come out at the Cumberland Valley trailhead. By all accounts I was to turn right.

Here’s where I gave Georgia her head. She chose the trail. Walking along, there were no familiar landmarks. The forest looked the same. It wasn’t long before I second guessed Georgia, and turned her around. But just as I did, I saw her hoof prints coming towards us. An affirming sign. But where was that trail crossing? Shouldn’t we have come to it by now?

So possibly, I’m lost in the forest. I half wished it. (So be careful what you ask for). Dusk is falling, made more rapid by the density of the canopy. I feel stupid to have taken Georgia on this ride, so late in the afternoon. She’s tired. It has been drizzling for a few hours within a week of rain. Everyone knows accidents happen when you get tired. What am I putting my animals through on this crazy odyssey I’m on—two cats and a mare? I feel like I’ve made all kinds of stupid decisions lately.

On the trails, Big South Fork National Forest

On the trails, Big South Fork National Forest

I’m swearing blasphemously like no one can hear me. I’m feeling sorry for myself. And did I say stupid? I feel like I’ve hit bottom. Things can’t get worse. I cry out to my ancestors for guidance. Tears and wailing.

But my mare, she just keeps on moving, never wanting to stop. She’s moving more energetically than when we were going away from the barn. Does that mean anything? Isn’t that just what horses do?

Then the magic happens. Flushing out from the forest, one, two, three, four, large white animals bounce away. They moved like deer, but with more whiteness than the underside of a tail. No. There was nothing else they could be, but deer. Four white deer. Four albino deer. Four. The medicine wheel.

From that short episode I’m reminded that powerful signs appear without warning. You cannot anticipate them. They come when they do, as they should. Sometimes it’s huge, like the rare albino deer. Or meeting an influential person at the library who claims you for his next lifetime, or woman at the grocery store who is getting paid to go on an odyssey just like yours, or the sheriff who pulled you over and took you home. And sometimes it is small, like a phrase your eyes pass over, or an interview you hear on the radio, a book someone gives you, a shedded snakeskin in the barn on New Year’s Day…. It’s all mystical. It’s called Grace. Divine Grace.

We finally got back to the barn and I rubbed Georgia down with muscle liniment. She got a massage. Her wool blanket wicked all the moisture away. She ate well. She rested.

Georgia back home with her wool cooler and supper

Georgia back home with her wool cooler and supper

True West Campground, Big South Fork, TN

True West Campground, Big South Fork, TN

I came to Big South Fork National Forest to ride between Christmas and New Years. The timing was bad. The two barns I stabled at were disappointing—one a downright dive with a bad vibe, the other gussied up in a hokey cowboy theme. But it didn’t matter anymore.

I could not have a better experience than meeting four albino deer on the day I possibly got lost in the forest on my beautiful mare, Georgia Grace.

P.S. Stay tuned for my next post about guardian angels.