A few metres behind the house was the edge of the forest - or as Northern Ontario folks call it - the bush . Forest is too refined a term for Northerners . It evokes visions of fairytale forests that open up under the broad canopy for ease of strolling and casual enjoyment .
Of course , this is purely a stereotype from imagination and I have to say other forests that I have wandered are not as idyllic as fairytales .
The West Coast Rainforest does open up once you enter which is a good thing for climbing over fallen trees and rock all coated in a wet moss .
The Prairie Parkland forests of birch and white poplar are sparse interrupted with open meadows and willow bushes. But walking is fairly easy as long as you keep an eye out for woodticks .
The bush behind the section house in Mattawa was typical Canadian Shield country . A lot of granite hills and tall white pines . Sunny openings crowded with maples , scrub oaks and chokecherries . Rocky outcrops covered with blueberries. Hard climbing and easy falling .
It was somewhere between this...
and this .
As children we spent summers wandering the back yard for hours on end , grazing on blueberries and chokecherries and drinking from tiny underground springs that surfaced here and there. We spent time climbing an ancient white pine to rearrange old boards across its branches as generations of kids had done in the past . The platform was proudly called the treehouse .
Further back into the bush , four hills of granite rose out of the bush . We would climb up these graduated hills to the topmost one and sit to rest . There was no spectacular view as the trees were still higher than the highest hill . The thrill was in the climb and the hundred foot drop on two sides .
The trail up the summer climb was our toboggan run in winter ...a challenging venture around monstrous pines , blind boulders hidden in the snow and drop offs . A skillful rider could make the mile slide from the topmost hill to within sight of the section house . Every winter , we would try to make it , but I must say I never did . Although I did make it past the tree house- the half way mark- on several occasions . Our sliding days ended when my friend and I hit the big white pine at the bottom of the lowest hill at intense speed ,shattering the toboggan .
I often wonder if any children found that place after we left the section house . For we were the last family to live there .
Did any of you spend your childhood playing in the forest ? What was your favourite activity / secret location?