Rice Lake, Ontario - Shawn Mosey
I am among the third generation of Moseys to live on or cottage on Rice Lake. Rice Lake is more than just the setting for my countless life-defining stories. Instead, Rice Lake is a character in my stories: it is alive, it interacts, it changes and it provides for me a place to swim, a place to drink and a place to fish. Rice Lake is my oldest and dearest friend. Rice Lake is a part of my family.
The first story I wish to share is about Monkey Island, a small island that no longer exists at the mouth of the Otonabee River. As a youngster, my father and I would swim and fish in the Otonabee. At times when the heat was too much, we would beach our boat on this small sandy island and moor onto one of the many roots of the sparse tall trees. Once there, we would take turns grasping the long heavy rope tied to the upper branches of the the tallest tree. We would hold the rope and climb the tree as high as we dared in order to swing out above the river. The excitement of swinging free of the island and releasing my hold of the rope above the water exceeded any feeling I've since experienced from a roller coaster or amusement park.
The excitement was contagious. Quickly other cottagers and residents grew curious and joined the fun until several boats would moor simultaneously on any given day. Sometimes on long weekends in the summer, boaters would have to anchor offshore and swim into the island because there was no safe place to moor due to the other boats. The traffic increased, and the tree roots became damaged. Meanwhile, the clean moving water of the Otonabee continued to flow into the lake, eroding the sandy soil of the island.
Sometime in the 1990's, the tree fell as its roots lost purchase in Monkey Island's soft ground. Without the root system to keep the island intact, the Otonabee swallowed the island. My own children know only the myth of Monkey Island.
Without these experiences, Rice Lake is just a lake.
But Rice Lake is not just a lake, it is a part of me.