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My View: Losing a beloved island and its spiders and snakes

By Candace Hines

Sold! Family cottage of 50 years on small Canadian island. No running water or electricity. Updated outhouse.

These cold, sterile words are woefully inadequate in describing our much-loved family cottage on Huckleberry Island.

Letting go was like losing a loved one. We all traversed the grieving process in different ways, but with a strong sense of gratitude for the gifts it gave us.

Recently the new owners sent us a lovely email communicating their delight of new ownership and asked for any history or little tidbits we could possibly offer.

This presented a conundrum. For instance, do we mention arriving one early summer day to find that a family of large water snakes had taken up residence in the family room, sunning themselves in a large picture window? Or the following year, finding the same “guests” curled comfortably on the fireplace mantel? As is customary in those parts, the interlopers were put in a boat and ferried over to a neighboring uninhabited island and set free.

Candace Hines.

Do we mention the large, black dock spiders that dance merrily along the boards, whose size could easily rival a coffee cup?

Or shall we mention the motorboats, canoes, sailboats and kayaks that, at various times, have escaped their moorings and floated happily away down the lake? They were always returned shortly by neighbors or passing fishermen with a wink and a chuckle. We even lost a complete piece of dock once which was never to be seen again.

And do we mention the family of mice that always winters over in the cozy broiler section of our oven? Please check before preparing your first meal!

And lastly, it is an island after all. Do we mention the arduous job of ferrying everything over at the beginning and end of a vacation? Loading up the boat numerous times with food, camping gear, baby equipment and more. It proved especially rugged during heavy rain or lightning storms.

So no, we have decided not to mention the above to the new owners. Those memories belong to us. They will discover on their own the delights of owning an island cottage.

But we will be sure to mention the spectacular sunsets from our cottage deck and windows. We have been known to drag the little metal kitchen table out onto the deck to dine and experience the “best view that any restaurant could offer in all of Canada.”

And we’ll be sure to mention how the full moon casts its golden light into the screened sleeping porch where we often gather after dark to tell stories and revisit the day’s adventures. It is a perfect backdrop to the loons calling up and down the lake, always prompting one of us to say: “Shhhh! Hear the loons?”

We’ll not forget to tout the great blue herons with their prehistoric shriek as they glide over the island.

We will be sure to mention the possibility of large breakfasts on the screened porch, with excited children gathered around chattering about the day’s events to come.

Games, of course, can always prove to be a huge hit with hours flying by involved in a heated game of Monopoly, Scrabble, cards or dominoes. One particularly amusing moment occurred during a boisterous game of Clue. A fisherman anchored off the island shouted out, “It was Colonel Mustard in the library with the candlestick!” Believe me. Sound does travel louder over water.

As time goes, the years passed quickly, marked by marriages, deaths, divorce and relocations. The core of family islandgoers began to shrink until only a handful of us remained. Quiet murmurs of “time to sell” began to permeate the family, while others strove to hang on – eventually ceding to the majority.

And so, our beloved Huckleberry Island has been sold.

To the new owners, Enjoy. Love our little island as we have. It will love you back.

Candace Hines of Hamburg is looking for a vacation rental – must be rustic!

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