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Cohen: Regardless of the passing of time and cottagers, Lake Temagami asserts its permanence

Regardless of the passing of time and cottagers, Lake Temagami asserts its permanence

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Each lake, it appears, has a fish story. This can be a turtle story.

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TEMAGAMI, Ontario – Each lake, it appears, has a fish story. This can be a turtle story.

It begins 33 years in the past, after I first noticed Lake Temagami, a glowing dominion of densely forested shores and rock-bound islands. The lake – some 45 kilometres lengthy and 35 kilometres huge amid different our bodies of water – is sculpted with bays, inlets, arms and shoals. We camped close to the slender opening of Baldwin Bay, on the finish of the northeast arm of Cross Lake, into which Temagami flows. Mary, whose household had run a fishing camp for 2 generations, tells me about an outsize fabled turtle residing in these components. A turtle. Positive.

However there, one morning, as we eat breakfast, lo and behold, the turtle emerges from the shallows to bask on the flat, heat rocks.

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Years later, with son and daughter, we’re in the identical alternative spot. And once more, curiously, the turtle seems.

Now it’s 2022. We have now spent a lazy afternoon fishing in Baldwin Bay. We expect nothing of the turtle, which have to be lengthy departed. Heading dwelling to Aunt Jane’s and Aunt Laura’s, we cease for a swim – unconsciously – in the identical place.

Mary is easing herself down the slippery ledge into the water. And there, mere inches away, respiratory laboriously, watching curiously and approaching steadily, is the turtle.

Not “a” turtle, pricey reader, as a result of that may imply there’s multiple in Baldwin Bay. In reality, there could also be others. However for the sake of this story, and this metaphor, let’s settle for there is just one turtle in Baldwin Bay. And that that is the one. And that he, she or they may be very, very outdated, as turtles may be.

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In one other lake, our prehistoric-looking reptile would have an agent, an Instagram account and a line of anti-aging magnificence merchandise. It might  be the star of a documentary. However depart all that apart and think about: Regardless of the lengthy, lonely lifetime of our unnamed, unfazed turtle, what issues most is that it stays right here, 12 months after 12 months. We will say the identical of this inland sea, with its 5,000 kilometres of shoreline.

“Of all of the issues in my life, Lake Temagami is essentially the most unchanged,” says Jack Goodman, who has been summering right here since 1953.

Over 69 years, he has seen a world convulsed. Right here, on this tentacled lake, he sees little seen change. Temagami shouldn’t be Muskoka, which has develop into a battleground between outdated and new values – floatplanes, quick boats, monster properties, landscaped gardens. There, the post-war promise of a middle-class household shopping for slightly cabin close to town is lengthy gone, as it’s nearly all over the place. Suburbia involves Arcadia.

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Not right here, not fully. Due to a longstanding ban on mainland growth, all cottages are on 800 or so islands. Some are massive and grand, however many stay fundamental.

In fact, some issues have modified. The Web is right here. Photo voltaic power redefines “off the grid.” There’s lead within the lake – from outdated fishing deal with – and fewer fish popping out of it. They’re smaller in dimension than within the Seventies. Eagles have arrived and the city of Temagami is struggling. And nobody is aware of the influence of world warming right here.

The Temagami Occasions is filled with obituaries, as at all times, as one era yields to a different. Amongst these we’ve misplaced is Dennis Goodman, brother of Jack, with whom we gathered each summer season. Over roast lamb and beer, we argued about all the pieces – Dennis was unpersuaded America ought to have entered the Second World Conflict – resolving nothing and leaving laughing. We miss him.

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In excessive summer season, the times are nonetheless wondrously lengthy. The sunsets – purple, azure, gold – stay majestic. The water – its huge channels and its noirish shapes at nightfall – continues to be bracing and infrequently tough. The air is sizzling as of late however, actually, is there any higher place in July than northeastern North America?

“For males might come and males might go,” stated Lord Tennyson of The Brook, “however I’m going on ceaselessly.” Just like the indestructible turtle, Lake Temagami stays stubbornly and gloriously ceaselessly.

Andrew Cohen is a journalist, professor at Carleton College and writer of Two Days in June: John F. Kennedy and the 48 Hours That Made Historical past

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