My Watermark is Kawagama Lake, Ontario.
Thinking back to my childhood summers usually means thinking about Kawagama Lake. My grandparents had a cottage where the mouth of White Trout Bay widened into the lake. Every summer cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and neighbours would pack their vehicles and make their way from whatever part of Ontario they lived in up to Dorset.
The cottage was a jigsaw of old and new buildings -- additions made with each family growth spurt. Rare moments were spent inside aside from rainy-day board games and sleeping. All our meals were cooked outside on a stone fireplace built my my grandfather and uncles. When we weren't at the table eating, my cousins and I were down by the water.
My first memory of being in water is here. Pink swimsuit, orange life vest, sunscreen smears on my arms. Only a few years old, I'm sure, but I remember sitting on a step and wriggling my little pudgy toes into the gritty sand. My older cousins would bring me water treasures: snails, clams, smooth rocks, and lake muck. I remember examining each new object with wonder then gently setting it back in the water.
I learned to canoe in Kawagama Lake with my mom and dad. We took a dark green canoe up and down the banks looking for frogs, deer, and jumping fish. I remember how excited I was when my grandpa handed me a small, kid-sized paddle I could use from the middle of the canoe.
I learned how to fish in Kawagama Lake. My first fishing rod was red and yellow and had a real hook. My dad helped me cast off towards the river where one of my uncle's old wooden boat sank years before -- a fishy paradise. The first fish I ever caught was a sunfish. It was just a bit bigger than my hand and glistened blue and gold in the sun. My dad showed me how to take the hook out and he placed it gently back into the water. I learned about all the different kinds of fish here: there were the plentiful sunfish, largemouth bass, and perch. My older cousins would go out into the lake's deep water in search for pike, but I liked my little spot on the dock best.
Though the cottage is no longer in the family, we still tell stories of Kawagama Lake when everyone gets together. That lake will always be a source of family memories and tales.