Eighty years ago my grandparents discovered their summer place. A small piece of land in a village on the southern edge of Georgian Bay. I wish I knew how they came to know about the land, as they lived in Toronto and the trip north was not an easy one in the 1930s. But even more interesting to me is why they bought it and the legacy it has left for our family. I think that I can answer that now, as this has also become my summer place.
It begins with colours, sounds and smells. Its the contrasts in its character. Its the horsehair wisps of white on powder blue skies. The dappled light and shadow through a canopy of oak. The gentle breeze off the water lifting the heat from sweating skin. The soft rain that calls us out to jump and play then like the prankster she is turns menacing and chases us home squealing. Then soothes us to sleep with a rooftop lullaby. Its the wash of childlike painting on the sky at evening time that draws us to attention in awe and wonder at its perfection. Its where joys can be as small as the grain of sand in our toes and annoyances are only as big as a mosquito. Where memories are made through barbeques, campfires, water fights and horseshoes. Its where friendships have been made and renewed annually for decades by saying happy new year in May and Merry Christmas in October. It is where you learn to be still for then you can watch mink play at waters edge and hummingbirds argue at feeders. You can admire the tenacity of terns diving and osprey fishing. You can wonder at the ancient songs of frogs and the lumbering awkwardness of turtles as they lay their eggs. You can be privileged to have chipmunks eat from your hands. And in learning that stillness, you feel a connectedness and reverence to past and present. It is the simplicity in the midst of all that complexity.
This is why 80 years ago my grandparents came, why my parents stayed and why my children grandchildren clamour to visit. And it is why it has been my summer place through all the seasons of my life.
April 13, 2014