Barefoot at the Lake
A memoir of summer people and water creatures
Lake Chemong, 1954.
Every summer, from June to August, the Fogle family pack up and leave the big city of Toronto, escaping to their white, cedar-clad cottage, the last in a row of a cluster of houses nestled in primordial forest on a wide, ink-blue lake. Mr Fogle, a silent mountain of a man, built the cottage himself. In the mind of ten year old Bruce, his father is brown and green, the colours of the land, his whip smart, gregarious mother, a vivid and fiery red. This year, joining his parents, his older brother Rob and Angus the family dog, is his mother’s wise and enigmatic brother, Reub.
At first, this summer break seems like any other. Bruce spends his days floating in the row boat with Grace from next door, jumping off the diving raft, eating peach pie, watching the seagulls and herons, observing frogs and turtles and catching crayfish.
Relishing the heat of the sun on his bare skin and the sludge of the lakebed beneath his toes, he, even at this young age, understands his life is pretty perfect. But then everything starts to change. Family dynamics are shifting, and over the summer both the harshness of the adult world and the thoughtless cruelty of children leave their mark. By the time the weather turns Bruce will be a different child, and will have chosen his own path to understanding the shifting, fragile wilderness that frames their summer idyll.
Teeming with wonderful characters, Barefoot at the Lake is the story of a boy discovering his place in the world and realising his deep connection with nature. It is a memoir that will utterly transport you – you’ll feel the sun on your face, the pebbles of the lake under foot and catch the scent of the pine on the wind.