We were drawn to Georgian Bay's magnificent landscape of crystal clear water, rugged rock and twisted pines. After purchasing a small island with an even smaller dwelling, we arrived with two kids in diapers, no boating experience, a goal to keep everyone happy and safe on the island, but most of all, not to return to the city until Labour Day.My first night alone with the boys, as we slept under the slanted roof of our tiny loft, a huge storm came up as I lay awake, worrying about fending off bears and attending to rattlesnake bites - animals I have grown to appreciate as part of the natural environment.
We purchased a steel boat and slowly tackled the steep learning curve of navigating the Bay's rough waters and unpredictable rocks. A few props later, I now travel through open water to take the boys to outer-island picnics, paddle tennis games and great exploring expeditions. Most days are spent fishing, exploring, paddling, kite flying, crafting, swimming and cooking. Now that the boys are getting older, they are expected to help with cottage fix-it jobs and woodworking has become a favourite pastime. We have our share of cabin fever and "Lord of the Fly" moments but what's been astonishing is how quickly and fiercely attached we've become to this landscape.This summer, I feel the need to teach the boys the responsibility that comes with being here. We've adopted the moniker of "Guardians of the Bay" in that we may be lucky enough to live here for a short time each year but we do not own it, but rather take care of it. They are beginning to understand how long it has been here before us and that it is us who are the intruders, not the bears, or the snakes, or the huge snapping turtle that visits our dock almost weekly.
We've been talking this summer about how to protect the habitats of the animals who live here and how important our actions are to their well-being. The road leading to our marina is surrounded by wetlands and many turtles cross the road when laying their eggs. When a large turtle was hit by a car earlier this summer, it was a grave reminder of our duty to slow down and act responsibly. A fellow cottager took action with the Ministry of Natural Resources and signs are due to be erected soon to remind drivers that turtles are crossing.My mission now is to raise the boys to appreciate and protect their surrounding environment and to understand how lucky we are to experience it. Every day here is a gift but also a responsibility to protect future days.