Mortality threw us together – my mother’s death, his father’s death – unexpected, too young to die – both too riddled with cancer to live. He had always wanted to have a place on Whitefish Bay, Lake of the Woods, Canada. Born in Chicago, Illinois, he savored the family fishing vacations that led them to this pristine and beautiful place. I am the Canadian, indigenous woman that married him.
The cabin had been fully furnished and equipped with everything needed for a summer vacation, but it had been late September when we took occupancy. This last month, we had worked from sun up to sun down getting ready for winter.
The used airtight heater we had purchased was inserted into the open granite fireplace that was central to the cabin. It would keep us warm this winter. The granite fireplace was a good twelve feet wide and four feet deep, the open side of it facing the living space, the solid side backing onto the galley kitchen.
The gravity water system had been an old galvanized steel barrel outside, containing no more than fifty gallons. We had fabricated an indoor water system that needed to withstand plummeting temperatures. The plastic barrel was now secured on a shelf tied to the kitchen side of the fireplace, as far-reaching upwards in the rafters as possible. It was optimal gravity that made the flow of water possible, and it was unlikely to freeze sitting next to the radiating heat from the warm granite.
And so it was – waking up after many years, realizing that life was pretty meaningless; our senses not acute, our joyful memories, just that – memories – and they had faded and blurred. We vowed we were going to do something about it before it was too late.