Thursday, April 1, 2010

Once discovered, never forgotten…

That’s the tagline for the legendary lake district of Muskoka. I can attest to its veracity, as could Ruth Gaunt Bennett when she became enchanted by it in the summer of 1932.  In her memoir, Adventures as a Muskoka Maid, she wrote of her first sight of the lakes, “Suddenly I saw that the so blue water held the blue sky captive within its depths…. I wanted to store all this new, exquisite beauty deep within me.”  Even as a maid catering to a well-to-do family at their summer home, she was able to enjoy the delights of cottage country - swimming, canoeing, moonlight cruises, corn roasts, and so forth. Muskoka worked its magic on her, as it has on countless others, and she eventually settled there with her family.

It made me think of my own introduction to this land of sparkling granite, fragrant pine trees, and island-studded lakes. My childhood friend has a cottage, built by her great-grandfather in 1879, on an island on Lake Rosseau. She, her mother, and brother spent every summer there from the time that school ended in June until it began again in September. Her father went up on weekends.

I was first invited there when I was 12, and was instantly captivated by the scenery and the lovely weathered cottage that held within its walls the essence of a different era. It was as if the past still lingered in the scent of old wood and musty books, on the expansive veranda and bedroom balconies, in the vanished spaces that had once housed servants. On rainy days we played vintage records on the ancient gramophone. The cottage still resonates to those long-ago tunes, like “By the Light of the Silvery Moon”.

I heard stories from aged aunts about the old days - the Age of Elegance on the lakes. Even then I knew that one day I would write about that fascinating time. My novels The Summer Before The Storm and Elusive Dawn pay tribute to that era. I’m now working on Book 3 in the series, which takes place in the 1920s.

In some inexplicable way, Muskoka has touched my soul. How lucky that I can reside there in my imagination.

To see more lovely photos of Muskoka, watch my short book trailer on YouTube.

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Gabriele Wills's books on Goodreads
The Summer Before The StormThe Summer Before The Storm
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A Place to Call HomeA Place to Call Home
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