The last days

A few weeks ago the super nice people who we rent a cottage from in the summertime sent us an email. There was a cancellation, they said. Did we want it?  We did.  After a quick check in the coffers we decided we could afford one more little trip this year, so we lied to ourselves about being able to work remotely,  grabbed Meg and Elliot and hit the road.

It was wonderful. The weather was as changeable as it always is the last week of summer, as the sun set each afternoon the temperature would begin to plunge (3 or 4 degrees, that’s 37 degrees, for my American friends)  and by morning we’d be lighting a fire and getting our wool socks and sweaters on, only to have the temperature begin to soar, and by mid afternoon it would be gloriously warm (25 – 28 degrees, about 80 for you non-Celsius lot) and we’d be swimming in the lake and knitting in the sunshine.

(There’s a consequence to temperature swings like that, and it’s that the lake begins to cool off pretty fast.  The water was absolutely frigid, or as Elliot would say every day as he dipped his little toes in before leaping wildly off the dock, “pretty frosty.”)

We kayaked and canoed every day and everyone got on board for my favourite, a family paddle. (Meg’s husband Alex was able to come for a day and a half so we had enough arms for a bit of adventure.)

Meg and I knit and knit and kayaked together,  Elliot and I went for walks and gathered wildflowers and we made it through the 18 month mark since Charlotte was born and then died. We observed a year and a half of living  in the Covid-times.  I took deep breaths. I finished a pair of socks.

(Improvised pattern with afterthought heel, Yarn is “Purple Skein” from Must Stash Yarns.)

I made headway on Ken’s sweater.

(Oshima for Him, in Holst Garn SuperSoft  – Embers

On Sunday, when it was finally time to go, I went down to the lake and stood there, letting the sun shine hot on me, looking at the sparkles on the water and thinking about everything that’s happened in the last 18 months, and trying not to feel too sad about the end of summer or future-trip into what it will be like over the next few months as it becomes impractical to gather outside.

I’ve always loved summer so much, and it’s hard for me to let go of it in the best of years, never mind whatever hot mess this year is. I stood there, and I tried – for just a few minutes, to feel nothing but gratitude and happiness for what good luck I’ve had. Then I dove into the cold, cold water and swam far, far out, to say goodbye to the lake in the only way it understands.

62 thoughts on “The last days

  1. Such a lovely end-of-summer post – thank you! Did you tell us what pattern that lovely blue sweater we saw on your Patreon was?

  2. This post hit me hard. I’m so happy that you had this, so sad that it’s been such a hard 18 months for you, but mostly I’m grateful that you have chosen to share your thoughts with us, people you don’t know, but people that care. Also, such beautiful pictures and surroundings. I envy you your environment. Thank you.

  3. What a treat!
    Well done for grabbing the bonus opportunity.

    I remember the end of summer holidays like that where we got dressed in swimsuits and t shirts and then woolly jumpers and stripped off layer by layer till it was time to swim!

  4. Today is my daughter’s birthday. Oddly enough, last weekend, I sat outside all weekend and enjoyed the last weekend of summer. I sat by the water with my knitting and a beer, hiked the trails and even brought my coffee out in the early morning to empty my garden one last time. I wanted to stretch it out as long as I could! Summer is my birthday, the sun, the outdoors, the stars, the cicadas singing, the late evenings of lounging outside… just everything so relaxing about it. This post was so fitting to read today! Fall is for copious amounts of tea, reading and knitting (and a run or two).

  5. The end of summer always seemed so sad, as the summer break from school ended. This year, it seems worse, as I just read an article about an increase in the prices of artificial X-mas trees. Anyway, the socks look great, the sweater looks good so far (love the color), and Elliot and Joe look like they had a great time. Hope you, Meg, and Alex did too!

  6. I’m so glad you were able to get away for one more quick trip. Your pictures are a joy, especially those featuring Elliot! My grandson is just a few years older and watching Elliot reminds me of him at that age. Blessings be upon you all.

  7. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for sharing your lovely pictures, Elliot’s growing up, your wonderful time on the lake. And thank you for “I tried – for just a few minutes, to feel nothing but gratitude and happiness for what good luck I’ve had.” What a great reminder to focus on gratitude. And I loved those socks!

  8. I was wondering about those temperature variances. Canada! Man that is some serious weather. Now if you were in Texas, you would still be having 90 degrees!

    Yup I am in Texas

  9. I so look forward to your posts. Beautiful in every aspect. Thank you for letting us in for a bit.

    The knitting is a bonus – so glad to have that, too!

  10. I thought you folks must be on a little vacation, and I’m so glad it was a nice one, even with memories you’d rather not have to think about. Hopefully for you, next year (starting now) will be a much better year. And if you’re lonely for summer weather, come to Sacramento California; our weather doesn’t seem to know how to cool off much any more, even in the so-called winter! You’d probably love it here … I don’t. Your cold weather and snow sound perfect to me!

  11. Kayaking is very restorative.
    Also knitting on a dock.
    End of summer is definitely tough.
    Much as I like wool items, I don’t feel ready for Autumn (or winter).
    thanks for the very special post

  12. I am so glad you were able to “sneak” up there for one last “hurrah”! I have been very sad to see summer pack up it’s bags, too. I’m not quite in the mood for the moody autumn, and this is a New Englander saying that! Luckily, I am safe and have lots (and lots!) of knitting. So happy for you!

  13. I am so in tune with your feelings about summer.
    My favourite part of this post is all the pictures of your beautiful legs. ‘She´s got legs, and she knows how to use them ‘ – ZZ Top. I would know. I am your age, and I like to display my best feature as well ! I never tire of showing off my socks, showing just a bit more leg than I have to. Go pins !

  14. Loving the end of summer here at the eastern end of Lake Ontario — cool nights, warm days, low humidity, chirping crickets, and fall sweater knitting. I grew up spending my summers at a cottage and now that I don’t have access to one I so enjoy your cottage posts.

  15. That looked like such a nice time. I’m trying to be grateful for what I’ve got and be positive, but it’s just a bit hard (I know for all of us). Thanks for all the smiles.

  16. I read your posts in Feedly. The layout is different from your blog. The photos appeared much larger and crisper. In Feedly. Your photos were so stunning that I had to come here to the blog to comment on them. Gorgeous scenery! So glad you were able to seize this opportunity for one last summer hurrah. I am one of those folks who dislike the heat, humidity, and bugs of summer though so I am thrilled that it is ending. My favorite time of the year is October through April but I do recognize that if I lived as far north as you, there is a good chance that I might like summer more than I now do!

  17. So absolutely glad your family was able to experience this happy moment. Your photos are absolutely beautiful even when there is no yarn in the image. Not trying to be weird but you have really nice feet, I noticed how often they are in your pictures.

  18. This looks so perfect, in spite of the temperature swings. I can’t think of a better way to say goodbye to summer than being out in nature in a beautiful place, surrounded by loved ones.

  19. Your post today was so peaceful. It reminded me of our summer vacations in Maine. I always marked the end of summer by starting knitting our wool mittens while sitting along the shore of Sebago Lake. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  20. Your writing is so lovely, Steph, and you are so generous and vulnerable with us, your Loyal Readers. Thank you for this wonderful, happy/sad, post.

    • This is exactly what I was going to write! More gorgeous writing by our beloved Yarn Harlot, whose writing has been feeding my soul and making me smile and/or cry for YEARS. Thank you, thank you, thank you. So blessed to have you in my life. You’re a treasure, you really are.

      Keep writing no matter what, please!!

  21. It’s wonderful to see those smiles. This post came just as I was trying to avoid the forward-stressing that I do when the seasons change. Thank you. I’m glad you had your lovely getaway.

  22. Your post was lovely, and it left me hoping for a better year ahead.

    Your weather is so remarkable— yesterday I wrote to a friend complaining bitterly about the heat and that I was “counting the days until the cold.” That is California in September. Unfortunately I’ll be counting for weeks.

  23. So very grateful you were handed that gift and that all of you got to relish your late summer time together.

    When Elliot was a baby I said he was illegally cute. And I thought he couldn’t possibly get any cuter. Oooops.

    You’ve had a really hard go the last couple years, girl, and I hope it ONLY gets better from now on. And thanks for the photos, you are so beautiful.

  24. We were able to spend several weeks in the upper peninsula this summer although we could not cross into Canada. We drove home to New Hampshire through the finger Lakes and the Adirondacks and I spent a great deal of time sitting by beautiful grand Lakes and thinking. So many conflicting feelings but I am eternally grateful for the majesty that nature can provide.

  25. I actually live full-time on Manitoulin Island, which is much like the place in your lovely photographs. There is not a day goes by when I do not thank my lucky stars.

  26. Looks like Ken’s sweater is progressing. Such a lovely brown. I once bought, because they were different, a pair of needles that were square instead of round. I’ve decided I don’t really like them. I’m going to take them to my next craft group and offer them to anyone else who wants to try something a little different.

  27. Very beautiful photos. Making your life a little more beautiful is not as difficult and expensive as it might seem. A new hand towel, new knitted socks, a beautiful photo taken while on holiday. You have everything. Thanks for sharing with us

  28. This is the first thing I read on my computer for 3 days as we also took a little trip to enjoy the end of summer. You sum up my feelings about this time of year so well. We didn’t get any swimming or canoeing in but we hiked and biked and explored. It’s amazing to me that even though I have lived in Manitoba all my life (68 years as of today) there are still parts that I have never been. And the fall foliage made it seem like a golden time of year. Crossing my fingers that all will be well with you and your family and all your readers for the future months.

  29. A beautiful post that capture the change of seasons! Glad that you are all being gentle with yourselves. It’s the only way, really.

  30. I actually mourn the loss of summer; there is something that drains away from me in the autumn. The world seems just a pale copy of itself until spring. I am so happy that you got the last sliver of the summer cake.

  31. The way a northern lake cools in September, the way the arches of one’s feet ache from that cold even while one’s face is in the warm sun, the way the world recedes while you are alone in that world, between the cold and the hot, the air and the water, the abstract and the concrete, even the grief and the joy — there is, in my opinion, no better way to understand that it is time goodbye to summer and to greet autumn gracefully.

  32. If there is one thing the current pandemic has taught me, it is to snatch every opportunity to spend time with the people you love. (I am currently sheltering two teenaged grandchildren from their parents who have Covid, which is stressful but also delightful.). And I am letting myself enjoy every moment they are here, and consciously not worrying about my daughter and her husband who seem to doing well. We are lucky to be able to share their lives: school! Homecoming dance! Shopping for Homecoming Dance….now, that was stressful! But building lovely memories for the long, dark winter ahead so worth every single moment of stress.

    I am so glad you were able to snatch another spell of happiness with your family.

  33. Thank you for sharing your wonderful photos and family. Love your posts! Here’s hoping that life for you & your family is more peaceful and blessed going forward.

  34. So funny that you live where you live, but you love summer. But then I live in Southern California and I love rain and snow. Maybe we should house swap.

  35. Those are nifty socks! You take beautiful pictures, and I am looking forward to seeing that sweater in such a very lovely colour. Thank you for taking me along on your vacation !!!

  36. Thank you for sharing such serene surroundings. Those stripey socks are a mood inducing high, too. It’s lovely that you let us have a peek at your activities.

  37. Another beautifully written account of a perfect end of summer trip. Thank you, and I agree…the end of summer gives me pause. *sigh*

  38. A fitting farewell to a beautiful ritual. And what joy to teach a child the skills his family cherishes. How to paddle a canoe or kayak. Which flowers to pick, which plants to avoid. What joyful memories he is building.

  39. Your photos were like a mini vacay for me. When I was a kid we spent every weekend at my cousin’s little cottage on the lake, and all of my sibs still remember those days as the best of times. Your pix brought back those memories, and I’m grateful.

  40. The photos are lovely! In the one with the red sunset, the dock stairs look like either hands getting ready to pray, or hands ready to receive yarn while someone winds it around in order to make a neat hank. Very pretty! P.S. Thanks for the temperature conversion. I’m an American who appreciates it! LOL

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