An Unexpected Layover @ Kosh
By Joy Brickell
Everyone has a how they lived through 2020 story; this is ours.
When COVID-19 became the top news story in the world Jim and I were working at a school in India. We got called home, so home -to Kasshabog Lake- we came. Imagine arriving in March with little warning to a cold, frozen, 3-season cottage! Our neighbours were fabulous. Heaters were turned on as soon as we announced we were enroute. An auger, piping and heating cables were waiting for us as we drove in from the airport so we could (with help - thank you Dave and Cathy) set up a temporary water line while our foot valve was resting, frozen, at the bottom of the lake. We were somewhat in a state of shock for the first few weeks. We had not lived through a Canadian winter for five years. We had parted with all our winter gear years ago so we had to make do with what we had. We suspected we might be in Canada for a while, but could anyone have guessed we’d be spending the next year at the cottage while students in India had a one-year school-closure?
Under normal circumstances, our March/April 2020 should have included the school’s first Grade 12 graduation celebration, end of year class parties, ESL summer camp planning, and a short holiday in Spain. Instead, we stood at the cottage window watching the ice melt! Very quickly we realized we’d better get ready for the long haul … just in case our stay here was for longer. Good thing we did!
To manage isolation in cottage country, you have to find ways to connect. During a pandemic with social distancing and other restrictions, we all had to be a little innovative. To support local businesses, we established a FB messenger group to launch Take-out Wednesdays. (For more info check out the article in the Spring 2020 Lake Kasshabog Resident Association Inc newsletter.) Summer was lovely for those who were here throughout. What a treat! And as fall turned to winter, we re-connected with the March/April take-out group and morphed into a winter @ Kosh group. We brought together a group of year-round Kasshabog’ers along with non-flying snow birds - and other grounded residents. The first invitation suggested that all attending should B-Y-O drinks, chairs and hockey sticks, the latter to ensure we maintained the recommended social distance. These get togethers gave us a chance to share ideas about making winter living fun and manageable.
We had a few tailgate parties (the word parties stretches that a bit) and enjoyed Fred’s Fire Drum fires on the lake. When Christmas rolled around, we orchestrated a baking and decoration exchange to celebrate the spirit of the season. The real bonus for us was rekindling friendships, getting to know neighbours that previously we had only known by name, and receiving first-hand knowledge on how to deal with the kind of day-to-day issues that come up around cottaging in the winter. Keeping the water flowing up and down, snow removal, heat, back up generators, sledding trails, dump hours, where to get sand, that sort of thing…
Through those long dark weeks of winter, we kept busy trying to get everything done while there was still light; a bit of exercise, some knitting, some sewing, bird feeding (complete with creating suet recipes), bird watching, snow shovelling, reading (Havelock has a great community library) and maintaining connections with the admin team in India. We enjoyed our daily walks, forest hikes, baking bread and creating the recipes in LCBO Food and Drink magazines. No fear of starving - We were doing our best to obtain the Covid-20 (pounds)!!!!
By the time you’re reading this we will probably be back in India again with our students. Being at Kosh for a full calendar year was truly rewarding: we savoured the changes of each season and the food options that came with it, talking to family members (by phone) in the same time zone, waking up to the birds, smelling the rain, swimming in the lake, sitting on the deck with a good book, savouring the quiet. Yes, savouring the quiet. It was a delight to share our experiences with fellow cottagers. The bonds we made, we know, will last long after travel borders open back up. Will we do a full year here again? Probably not. But if we do, we know we can do it and we will not be alone.
If you want to know more about our school (Global Pathways School) it can be found on FB, Twitter, Instagram and the WWW under the Canadian Charities name; Village Community Foundation or (VCFoundation.ca)