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The temperature here in St. Louis has just equaled the 1936 record for this day, 102° F. The stock market has creamed another 200 points off the Dow. Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be 50.

All clutter. Instead, I find myself thinking of a time only just over a week ago, yet already assuming the detached distance that is the fate of all memories. At the Cedar Shores Motel in Jellicoe, Ontario, with no news (the television remained off over the 5 days of our stay), no internet, and just the trees, lake, gravel roads and rivers around our cabin on this charmingly ramshackle estate.

We were so far north that the sun did not set until about 9:30 at night, and light lingered in the twilight sky until almost midnight. This gave each evening a languor that altered my sense of time and eased out each day into a much more relaxed state. It was not possible to hurry in such a place, the best thing to do was to sit and watch the sun go down, or take a lengthy and leisurely drive in the forest, float in a canoe, or simply read a book. (In this case, the latest and last Harry Potter.)

Our cabin was small and simply furnished but had everything we wanted. To wake in the morning, make a cup of tea and a plate of bluebery pancakes, and then sit out on the wooden porch overlooking the lake and watch for loons – it is hard to think of a better way to spend time. In many ways, the stay reminded me of childhood memories at my grandfather's country house, but the setting, the wildness of the place set it apart. No bears or moose showed themselves to us, but we knew that the woods all around us were their home. Despite the highway – Ontario King's Highway 11 – close by us, there was a strong sense that this was a land that had not been conquered by man. Perhaps it was the almost complete absence of any sort of farming that aided this impression. It was like a nature reserve that had not yet needed to be reserved.
The air was filled with biting things – mosquitos, flies, strange insects that I had never seen before, and we were scratching bumps of varying size and soreness almost the whole time we were there, yet it really didn't bother me at all. Somehow, to offer a little blood to these creatures was a small price to pay for being allowed to briefly share their world. Not that I did not take pleasure in swatting a lazy mosquito sinking its proboscis into my wrist – it's just that when I missed them it really didn't seem to matter. With the sun sinking and the cool evening air stealing over me, I was immune to disturbance.

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