Peering through the fog of my breath, I look back on the tracks of my skis that disappear around the corner of the swim dock at BB. It’s hard to reconcile this view with the rolling waves and bone-jarring bounce of the Hi-Techs in summer. The silence is overwhelming. The peace of the moment is profound.
Imagine, if you can, standing on the rock-hard frozen surface of the bay, about a hundred yards out from the campus, Emblem Rock draped in a stole of snow on your left, the dining hall, deck and front dock , all covered with a pristine blanket of snow on your right, and ahead, Lount Lodge. In summer it’s an impressive log edifice. In the icy silence of winter it morphs into a snow-capped cathedral. This place of boisterous fun becomes a basilica, almost a place of worship.
The island, a few days before Christmas, has settled itself for a well-deserved rest.
Snow covers the scars of the past season of camp when the assault of a thousand young feet wore down its paths and the exuberant shouts of youthful play still echo quietly in the pine tops. I hesitantly break the bond of snow and soil with my tracks and explore Copeland at peace.
A closer inspection of the hall and lodge shows how long icicles have descended from the eaves where the sun has managed to have a moment of sway and melt the snow cap. Following down the line, the empty cabins silently stare out through the bare trees toward Patton. I know each one by heart and ignore the new names. ‘The old shall not pass away until we do,’ I think with a touch of loss.
Tracking on past St. Juliens I follow the rise to Raspberry Rock and pause to gaze out on the mighty Manitou Stretch. Below is little Ball Island, frozen in a sea of ice. Little Peanut is invisible. Up here the wind is free to clear the snow from the rock. I pull my collar tighter and turn down toward the log cabin and chapel.
I’m old enough, getting to ancient, so I remember Davey on a summer Sunday morning sitting on the big rock at the side of the chapel, a wreath of pipe smoke around his head as he listens to the boys intone a favourite hymn. I still sense his presence, just as I know the presence of the Carpenter from Nazareth abides in this place.
Back along the path to the campus I pass the boathouse and depot. No-one is preparing a trip on this chilly day, but there is a feeling of anticipation of paddles pulling through still waters and soft nights around a campfire. My tour is nearing its end.
Preparing for the long trek back to old Fishmarket and Kenora I enjoy one last savouring of Stephens in winter. Strange, but perhaps not for me, my thoughts are of a gracious God who has blessed us all with this place, these memories, these faces and voices of friends.
I’m ‘home.’ Thank you, Lord.
Hal Studholme, December 2014
Camp in winter
|Dining hall renovation and new dock construction|
High rise #1
|The Jeep and old rec hall|
|Back of the old dining hall|