Gathering in community is a privilege. It is a gift to share space , friendship, events and activities with others who share our passions ( if not our bloodlines) and a combined history. This is really something remarkable and particularly sought out by the immigrant population of which I am a member.
For those whose life choices have kept them within at least a half day drive of where they began, who readily come across friends, family and acquaintances who have witnessed their origins, there is not the same impetus to reach out to encourage new friendships or to seek out new and independent communities.
For those like me however, with an adventurous spirit and zest for discovery and challenge we can find ourselves far from our first homes and way beyond our original stomping grounds. For us, community takes on a larger meaning.
I have been a resident in Manitoba since January of 1991, a citizen since 2007 and a part of cottage country since 2013. I joined the wave after our family settled into Ponemah as summer residents. Here I have had the pleasure of meeting the many creative characters of The Interlake.
Now in its 18th year, the Wave Interlake Artists Studio Tour, often emulated, remains, Manitoba’s largest running artists studio tour. Over 50 artists have participated and 29 individuals are involved in 2019’s June and September wave tours. They are all eager to invite you into their personal spaces on this free family friendly weekend and welcome you into their personal community as a new friend.
The communities I have formed since my arrival in Manitoba in 1990 continue to inspire me ( you know who you are) I enjoy people, I enjoy learning of their histories and am happy to be included in future histories as our friendships develop.
Like all relationships, a friendship requires some effort to maintain and prosper and without that family of origin dominating my time and energy, the development of these chosen families is important, prioritized and celebrated.
The Interlake community is no different. This is a hard working group of creatives passionate about where they are and what they do.
Canadians seem to have a particular attachment to their summer residences which they call, the lake, the cottage, the cabin, or the camp. These often rustic spaces resonate with their histories and connection to place, with the roots put down together in shared experience, with friendships and activities or events, and time well spent together in each other’s company.
I fondly recall sitting around a campfire with the Steele and Richie clans on a far away and aptly named, “Pretty Beach” in NSW Australia over a Christmas holiday. (Canadians please know the Southern Hemisphere celebrates Christmas at the peak of their summer holidays.)
Col Steel’s directive to point a pinky finger at the fire whose smoke is coming your way is a no fail strategy. It is an example of an action that forms a small part of who we are and that resonated long past that particular moment in time.
I continued to share that important tidbit with my Canadian contingency as we share space and time around my own lake country fire place. Try it. You won’t be disappointed. It is a testament to the formative connections we make through events and activities as part of a community
My studio at the lake is a work in progress. It began with a gallant effort to salvage an 8’x 16’ shed at the back of the property that was new to us in 2013. After 10 uninhabited years and one original owner we happily undertook a grand effort to understand and assimilate into the Canadian affinity for the lake and the cottage/cabin/camp.
We novices had much to learn but have heartily bonded with summer routines and scenes at our little abode just an hour north of the city on the water at Ponemah.
By season 2 we started to figure things out and realized the inaugural effort to resurrect the shed as studio was a fools errand and in hickory dickory dock fashion, it was levelled to the ground, mice and all.
The new bunkie, a purpose built replacement with a loft arose in the shed’s place. It boasts a lake view, windows affording a lovely cross breeze, a napable day bed I am yet to try out and best of all, no mice.
The bunkie hosts our overflow guests more often than not and twice annually fills with selected contents of my Exchange District Studio for the Wave Interlake Artists Studio Tour.
I appreciate community, love our summer routines and friends and enjoy welcoming wave participants to our little haven to see what has bloomed on my canvases or in silk over the last season.
2019’s Wave Studio Tour this June was preempted by a blustery 34 degree day of preparation on Friday which ended in a spectacular storm. The weather took out power in the region for hours and inspired an evening of candle light interactions. It toppled hydro poles like dominos on highway 8 and quenched the thirst of trees and cottage gardens after a very thirsty spring.
As per past WAVE years our bunkie was graced with the company of friends old and new. Three sets of new neighbours in our area is a record for a section of the Interlake known for generational ownership. It rained, it poured. My diligent, supportive husband made raincoats for each and every painting that hung on the cottage’s exterior walls. The birds sang between downpours and I swear the grass grew right before my eyes. Our local eagle even hovered curiously at one point just above the peaked bunkie roof, blessing us with his or her eagle energy and helping us to soar.
The community that is so important to me as an immigrant came out in support despite the weather. Neighbours old and new and batches of girlfriends, young couples and families bonding on a spring weekend roadtrip graced our little haven and we connected over colour. How lovely is that?
Sunday is another day and whatever the weather holds it will be a privilege to spend time with my husband and daughters enlisted in the combined effort to share time and space with wave goers who are also seeking community with their individual parties on the road trip together.
It is a lovely way to discover the gems of Manitoba’s Interlake, along with the people who do and those who wish to know, this place.
What a privilege I am given to be able to call myself a part of such a community of artistic, hard working and inspired souls.
Come join us, rain or shine in June and September annually. www.watchthewave.ca for online details where Mandart North is Studio #6 on the tour.
Hope to see see you there ,