That first fall and winter, living on Round Lake was so amazing. It was one of those autumns that just went on and on, with perfect weather, glorious colours all coming together in their splendid combinations at the same time. We were just getting used to rural life of course and every day I’d pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. We’d actually done it, moved to the country and were living on my favourite lake, where I’d spent every summer at as a kid. It was heaven.
With an extended autumn, the lake froze before there was any snow. That was wonderful. We could skate and skate to our hearts content, right in front of the house and out a long ways. At first it was scary. I’d learned to swim in Round Lake, I’d fished in Round Lake, been all over in a boat, but I’d never walked on it and as the ice thickened there were loud booms and long cracks that had us scurrying back closer to the shore.
We had another favourite place to skate, on a pond on the other side of Red Rock Road. Because there was no snow and it was so shallow the ice was smooth, clear and black and you could see the rocks and weeds under the ice and occasionally a fish. We called that Evergreen Swamp.
Life was idyllic. I was baking bread and making tofu, and we started experimenting with making wine and beer. When we weren’t walking, skating or skiing we read books on homesteading, gardening and house-building. We drew up plans for our dream house; pages of scale drawings showing every room and detail and eventually even built a cardboard model. I’m sure we drove our friends nuts talking about it ad nauseum and showing them our mockup.
That year it didn’t snow until Christmas Eve. Big, perfect flakes started falling in late afternoon and we hurried out to skate on the clear ice one last time as the light faded, spinning around and catching flakes on our tongues and watching the world turn white. We cleared the ice for a while, but by January when we’d had some sun and thaw weather, the ice was too rough and the snow too deep. We skied around a few times, but it was too boring skiing across a flat lake. And then those ice cracking noises still scared me too much to go way out into the middle on skis anyway. I think we tried ice fishing once, but that might have been another year. Talk about boring.