by L. G. William Chapman, B.A., LL.B.
At six o’clock in the evening we stood like two anxious dogs upon the edge of the River, peering into the mist and grey light to determine whether indeed the approaching small craft was that of our hosts, Debbie and Mike, from the Village of Appleton, come to collect us for dinner with them at their home. The motor of the boat puttered languidly. They came more sharply into view as the boat’s bow was seemingly magnetized to our shoreline stance. “Ahoy!”, went up the corporate welcome on both sides, and the metal craft slid with a grind onto the beach and out jumped Mike and Debbie both cleverly sporting open plastic shoes to accommodate the water upon their feet. Then followed embraces and the first of many groans about the disappointing weather which for the last hour had turned from cloudy to on-and-off drizzle, threatening to dampen our planned outing. Nonetheless we in unison proclaimed our advantage over such niggling details and proceeded to career ourselves into the small craft in preparation for departure, supplemented by less than nautical burbles about balance, size and position.
So began our evening’s pleasure. Debbie and Mike by way of balance maintain homes at both ends of the River between the Village of Appleton (up-river) and the Town of Almonte (down-river). Mike, who was handling the steerage of our vessel, began our riparian adventure by escorting us further down-river towards the edge of the flash boards jutting into the River from the old flour mill where there is now housed a small privately owned generating plant. Then, capitalizing upon the agility and smallness of our skiff, he forged into tributaries of the River which normally do not admit to penetration. Soon however we were again upon open water in the middle of the River heading for Appleton.
Debbie meanwhile was in the throes of unfolding the many vessels of another kind which she had earlier prepared and brought on board. We were about to be served drinks and hors d’oeuvres. The backdrop to her silent industry was constant chatter, divergent conversation about anything and everything, interrupted at times by topical observation upon some natural element of the River or its inhabitants along the ten kilometer stretch. We soon became lost upon the River, surrounded on both sides by only greenery and stretching fields, oblivious to urbanity.
Upon arrival at their dock, we beached the boat on the side opposite Mike’s yellow sea plane appropriately named “Husky” for its powerful features. We dragged the boat gear and spent provisions up the hill to the house.
The house was in a state of disrepair and on-going renovation. We had however been previously warned of this condition and for that reason the decision had been made by our hosts to dine al fresco alongside the waterfall upon which the sideyard faced. Not long into the proceedings however it became apparent that the weather was not improving; and in point of fact had taken a decided turn for the worse. Our initial preparations to outfit the out-door scene were abruptly reversed as we retreated to the dryness of the spacious garage on the other side of the house, to which Mike had dragged the flaming barbecue for ease of access.
At first our plans seemed poised for being entirely upended, but then in a moment of flash insight we joined in the cry for conversion of what was at hand to what we required. Suddenly Debbie was sweeping diverse items from the top of the wooden work-bench, passing a cloth upon its smooth surface to wipe it clean, and laying cutlery, plates, glasses and napkins. We had our picnic table! And under cover! Mike meanwhile was energized in his duties at the barbecue, tossing shrimp upon the grate, lathering them in homemade sauce and spices. We were back in gear after barely a hiccup!
The time passed most agreeably and it wasn’t until something approaching eleven o’clock that there began the first rumblings of subsiding. The meal had been sumptuous, punctuated by amusing and enlightening conversation. Our construction site dining had been an undoubted success!