Of Lakes and Silver and other things we tarnish and polish



The water’s surface is the pounded silver of a medallion I have at home. It is heart-shaped, pocked, lumpy and comforting. Some small instrument, a tiny hammer, I imagine, put those marks in the heart’s soft surface, pressed into service by a skilled man’s hand.

Here, the marks are ever present on the inky surface of the lake. They are ever present, if inconsistent, owing to the wind (and Nature’s whim).

Other marks in the randomly dappled surface of the water are the sharp cuts of man’s invention and his overuse. There are the straight lines of boats, and their skiiers; there are the oil slicks of gas the clouds of decaying garbage (likely paper) floating just below the surface. 

The mystique of living here is an image tarnished quickly by staying some few days. The romantic notion of a cabin under the pines, nestled into crevices where massive granite slabs overlap, is more about upkeep and patchup than idyllic design and environmental construction.  Wood trim on windows rots through in a single year of seasonal lakeside weather. The door with the small, round window you fancy resembles a ship’s porthole will only hang straight enough for the slider lock to work the first winter.

The space between the two-by-six dock boards will be important enough to quibble over when the couple are newly-wed. The natural expansion of those same boards five years later will cause heaves and warps that she will trip over and accuse him in front of guests of being too lazy to fix.

It is a place and a lifestyle. It is for the now and the milestones of yesteryears. It is a stained glass work of art to be appreciated, with a menagerie of wires, appliances and lean-tos that make it stand up.


When describing summers, once they have passed, remarks are warm, and sweetened by selective memory. The hammer marks remind, as the tide eddies and spills the flotsam of their lives onto the shore. 

This is how everyone speaks of car-trips, cottage stays and family reunions when embarrassing sibling arguments, broken and overstuffed suitcases and soggy wailing babies are no longer top-of-mind. Within a family’s walls, the tone used is decidedly dour when March gives way to April with its buds on trees and frost is gone from lakefronts. 


“Guess this is our last weekend before the cottage opens,” he grumbles, biting into a restaurant hamburger for the last time. Weeks later he will barbecue in the fragrant open air, overlooking a clear lake amid the chatter of the children, and the next weekend and some fifteen after that.  He is never sure if he enjoys it or not, nor why he does it. It has always been this way.
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About Patti M Hall

Patti M Hall is an author, educator and writing coach living near Toronto, Ontario with her two very tall sons.

Hall is a non-fiction writer specializing in the stories of individuals who demonstrate resilience in the face of trauma and personal challenge. Hall is dedicated to helping other people tell their stories through whether that be through authoring books, teaching writers or coaching aspiring memoirists.

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