Winter in the meadow


Since we’ve been back in Ontario, we’ve been spending as much time as we can at the boat—no, not the one in Florida, the other boat, Meadowlark, the one we’re building on our family property up north, I’d really rather not say exactly where…

We have 50 acres of land, 60 now that we’ve purchased the adjoining property with access to a three-season road. Before that, we depended on the good graces of our neighbours to get in and out of our place. In winter we have to hike in a couple miles on a snowmobile trail then hop a fence and snowshoe across a farmer’s field to get in.


But the isolation of the property is much of its appeal. It’s on a lake in the middle of the concession block, surrounded by farm land. There’s an old log cabin down by the lake, where my sister Brenda stays, built long before the township decided that because we are on a three-season road, we can’t build any more dwellings on our property.

So we’re not. Chris and I are building a boat up in the meadow.

Now Meadowlark is no ordinary boat. Sturdy post and beam construction, tongue and groove oak on the hull, an oak deck. Skylights. Discreet eavestroughs along the scuppers. You starting to get the picture?

Chris designed Meadowlark during long winter nights in our townhouse in Waterloo. He produced a set of working drawings that are themselves a work of art, then we set to work building round windows in our garage in Waterloo.

Once we broke ground in the spring, many hands helped build the boat. Our friend Rick, a carpenter by trade, helped us with the finer details, such as fitting the posts and beams—painstaking, exacting work. But the finished result is worth it. (Rick may have a different opinion on this…)

The outside is complete now, but there’s lots of finishing still to be done on the interior. Chris spent the week between Christmas and New Year’s building kitchen counters out of ash to match the dining room table we also built in our garage in Waterloo. (The neighbours at the townhouse hardly minded the sound of the table saw and the router, the smell of varnish late into the night. Really they didn’t.)

Sure, living in Meadowlark is a bit like living in a construction site—plywood floors, most but not all of the drywall installed but still bare, vapour barrier ceilings. But the boat is well insulated, and we have a full-size woodstove, so even on the coldest of winter days, it’s as cosy as can be.

And living in a meadow in the middle of winter, miles from the nearest road, is absolutely magical. The moon was full when we were up there between Christmas and New Years, and each night we’d look out across the snow, hoping to see a deer, or a coyote, or even a rabbit. But we didn’t see another creature the whole time we were up there, not even a mouse, though every morning we’d wake to fresh tracks in the snow all around us.

The silence in the meadow is profound, just the gentle sound of the wind chime from time to time. And the roar of the Argo.

Yes, we have a new addition to the fleet up at the farm—a sturdy tracked vehicle that laughs at snow. Once we’ve hiked in, we can zip back out to the car in the Argo to haul all our gear in rather than pulling it in on a sled. And we know that in an emergency, we can get out in a hurry.

Plus it’s just plain fun to drive around in! I’m still getting used to the skid steer—I often end out quite a ways away from where I thought I was going—but (surprise) Chris has mastered it completely. He can even do a perfect spin stop, braking hard on one side and doing a 180 before coming to rest. Very fancy. And a little hair raising.

We can’t think of a nicer place to be in winter. Except possibly on our other boat, somewhere warm. We try not to look at the weather in Florida—oops, just did. Twenty-five degrees, and sunny, light winds. Same as yesterday. And the day before. How boring.

Hmm. I could do with a little of that kind of boring.


4 thoughts on “Winter in the meadow

  1. Looks, and sounds, great. Can’t wait until we find out the secret coordinates so we can help you drink some hot chocolate, or perhaps wine, there some wintery evening.


  2. Happy to hear you are doing well. The boring weather in Florida nearly dropped to freezing one night. Way too chilly for our thin blood.

    Hope to see you soon when you are coming South.

    Sven and Nina


  3. Well … about that painstaking, exacting work.

    It was a truly unique opportunity to try my hand at helping out on a project that constantly engaged my carpentry skills and gave me new challenges to try to visualize and fabricate stuff in 3 dimensions. I’m thinking about the shape of that bow area, the pointy end. Glad it all worked out, and is providing you two with a cozy warm place to be these days.

    Hope to get more opportunities to assist in your other projects.

    Take care and stay warm,


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