School of Graduate Studies

School of Graduate Studies
School of Graduate Studies

The Lake Shift - Day Two

By Colette Steer, June 25, 2016

group photo of graduate students at the lake shift

It’s 4:30 am on Monday morning and all I heard were the Loons, making that amazing call from the waters of Lake Opinicon. "How very Canadian," I thought, "and sure beats the squawk of the Sulphur Crested Cockatoo in Australia to wake you up."

Now I wasn’t the only one awake at that time. It is usually around 4:30am that the researchers at the Biology Station are getting up and going to check on their birds. Seems they are easier to spot at that time in the morning. This is a reminder to us all that although we are using the station for a writing retreat, the main purpose is for field research – fish, birds, snakes (yuck), ticks and more. These researchers have been very accommodating to us as we have infiltrated their habitat.

So today is the first real day for writing. The breakfast bell rang at 7:30am and I was amazed how many were actually ready to eat! With pancakes and bacon ready to go (thank you Veronika, head chef at camp), it was a great way to start the day. Then one by one, the Lake Shifters started to write their goal for the morning or the day. Just on a post-it note and stuck it on the flipchart in the dining hall. Visuals, you got to love them.

It was a bit of rainy morning, so off the campers went to find their perfect spot to write. The Library was popular as was the dining hall and seminar room, but throughout the day, students were found outside at the BBQ tables, sitting on a garden chair, sitting on the decks or inside of their cabins. Slowly as the day went on, more post-it notes had been moved from the “Goals” flip chart, over to the “Accomplished” flip chart. It was great to see.

achievements chart at the lake shift

At lunch time Dr Bob Montgomerie (Queen’s Biology) popped by to just sit and chat with some of the students. The theme was “Chat with Bob” and they did. This was an opportunity for them to talk to a researcher who had gone through what they were experiencing now and was able to pass on his experiences and what he had learnt along the way. Although I thought Bob would only stay for lunch, he was still there chatting until 4pm! Fantastic.

The evening seminar was Dr Maggie Berg (Queen’s English) who discussed “Writing better by not trying too hard”. Maggie is the co-author of the book “The Slow Professor” and what a wonderful evening session for the students. Lots of discussion took place during the seminar and continued on after, when we all went down to Earl Cottage for a quick dip in the lake, followed by a campfire (yes with marshmallows).

So that was Day 2.

  • Writing – lots
  • Ideas/plans - lots
  • Swimming - yes
  • Bear Sightings – nil
  • Tick removals – nil
  • Little brown frog sighting – 1
  • Campfire – 1
  • Number of marshmallows eaten – too many to count