Cold hands, warm hearts
Invigorating but chilly weekend at the North Words Muskoka Literary Festival
I was in Huntsvillle this weekend for the 2nd annual North Words Muskoka Literary Festival, and was lucky enough to hear Margaret Atwood (who needs no introduction, despite assertions otherwise) and Terry Fallis (author of The Best Laid Plans and The High Road) speak. Inspiring to hear these authors tell of their own (very different) wild rides to authorial success. As someone who works with, and loves, words, it was a pleasure to be in a room with so many people who feel the same. There was a real warmth surrounding the festival—Louise Parkinson, the owner of The Bookcase (a beloved independent book store in town) even offered her teenaged daughter to babysit my toddler so I could attend more festival events. This cozy, welcoming climate perhaps made the outdoor atmosphere all the more a shock.
We stayed at the cottage and I had a very clear reminder of just how cold fall nights up north can be. It was 12 degrees Celsius when I woke up in the morning—inside the cottage. We lit the woodstove and cradled mugs of coffee. The cold toes on the linoleum are almost enough to make me want to hibernate, and I’m not alone in wanting to hide away—I noticed a silence instead of the racket that usually emanates from the bullfrogs’ summer digs. It made me recall a story I wrote for the magazine a few years ago, all about how different animals tuck away for the winter.
But how can we cottagers hide away when there’s so much to love about this time of year: the leaves in colour, the crisp (okay, freezing) mornings, the glorious stars (are they more stunning in the fall, or is it just me?). Many of us will be heading to the lake for Thanksgiving next weekend to take in the splendor. My advice: Don’t miss it, but don’t forget your toque and long johns!