Posts Tagged: ontario

autumn, highway, home

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Driving back toward the city from weekend back home.

august bounty

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Rooftop picnic with my girls and Ceri.  The season is changing and one of the ways I can tell is that I'm getting nesty.  Summer remains in all its August loveliness, and yet I'm starting to think about making things like soup, and ways to preserve this bounty.  But nothing can preserve what it's like to eat fresh Ontario tomatoes, peppers and corn outdoors on a clear summer evening.  August – I'm hanging on to you for all I'm worth.

ride and reflect

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Road Trip Part Two:  Homeward.  In which we reflect on our family and all we're grateful for.  Another stellar weekend – Lucky me.

leaving and arriving

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Every time we get on the ferry to come home, we walk over to the other side of the ferry so as to have a spot to wave at our people after the ferry gets turned around to head out of the bay and south.  This old cabin on the Wikwemikong side of the bay, then, is always the first thing I look at on leaving the island.

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South Baymouth is the second thing I look at, after the ferry turns around.

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South Baymouth Lighthouse, Manitoulin Island.

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Approaching Tobermory on the Chi Cheemaun.

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Approaching Tobermory

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Chi Cheemaun Ferry

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Welcome home to Toronto.  Back to the "real" world.

out walking: south baymouth

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The moment you arrive here, that old grind sheds off your shoulders.  That's one of the reasons I've always called it my favourite place on the planet.  

South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island.

rest; evening light on canada day

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South Baymouth, Manitoulin Island.  Happy Canada Day.  Feeling blessed.

a long, long day and why I love americans

Today, attempting to embark on our roadtrip from Michigan to the Manitoulin Island, we encounter  a series of unfortunate events, culminating in a giant traffic stoppage due to an accident on the I-75 southbound.  It doesn't take us long to come to terms with the fact that we will not get to Tobermory to catch the last ferry to the island.  In the meantime, as we sit on the highway in the sweltering sun, the gas tank is dwindling, no highway exit in sight.  Trapped, we pull over to sit out the traffic jam on the side of the road with the car off.  It's more than an hour into the jam-up and we all get quiet and feeling dejected, wondering how many hours of this are ahead of us.  

Within 15 minutes, we're approached by no less than six different cars, offering gas, snacks and water.  One lady shares what she'd heard on the traffic report.  At one point, we see an older woman walking unsteadily on the side of the road with a wad of tissue in her hand, obviously seeking an gentler route into the ditch where she can relieve herself.  A woman who had minutes ago insisted we accept bottles of cold water from her cooler, gets out of her car to help the woman down the side of the ditch and behind some bushes on the other side.  She then stands there with her skirt spread to protect the woman's privacy.  After ten minutes or so she helps the woman back up to the road and sends her back to her car with a bottle of water and a hug.  I've always know Americans are kind people.  Today they proved it again.

Everyone's moods are heightened significantly, and our resolve to drive around to the island the long way, back north the other way through Michigan, through Sault Ste Marie toward Espanola and bridge access to the island, doesn't seem so bad.  We arrive at the cottage at 1:45 am, after more than 13 hours, bloody tired, but happy to be here.

 

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Crossing the Mackinac Bridge, into Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Ontario is within reach.

 

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Stopped at a pub in Sault Ste Marie for some dinner and were happy to listen to some live blues by this excellent guitar player, with whom we shared some banter about our hometown of Windsor.

 

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Twilight on the road. It's a long, long day.

 

variable like spring

 

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Overcast, and streetcar cables at King and Spadina, Toronto

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A basket of wine bottles with fun orange labels.

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Fresh mown grass. FRESH MOWN GRASS. How uplifting is THAT smell the first time you smell it in the spring?

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Thunder-stormy sky. It started raining just as I got to this corner. I got a little wet, subsequently, but I didn't mind.

cloudy

I’ve been in Sudbury for the past couple of days with my job.  When I planned the trip, I didn’t anticipate the work that would suddenly consume me in the past week, and the relatively short travelling period – ten minute walk to the airport, 30 minute checking in and waiting, one hour flight, twenty minute collection of bag and rental car – is still a hole in the work day I can’t afford.

When I arrive it’s a luscious late summer’s day.  I’m reminded that it’s really early autumn when I descend into the near-north landscape and find the annual show of autumn leaves has begun.  In my mind I will the plane to hang there and let me look for awhile.  I think of my father only an hour away on the island and I wish I’m visiting him instead.

I’m preoccupied with work during my stay.  And at the same time I’m finding it tremendously hard to concentrate.  I’d heard from some of my intuitive painting people from the workshop just past (post still coming!) that the mind would continue to want to play games and do its own thing after the experience.  And as much as I hate it, I’m having to reel it in during this first big proposal since I started this job.  The two-and-a-half days away are an unruly mental battle. 

Today I return to the airport in Sudbury to go home and as much as it agitates me to think of time away from the document and how am I going to catch up, I’m really looking forward to that little journey in the sky.   As we lift away from the earth, I’m engaged with the autumn colour, until the clouds begin to veil over the view.  My half-day anticipation of colour and lakes and green fades away before my eyes and I sit back in my seat, resigned to being back in the city and work only an hour away.

My disappointment, however, washes away with the landscape when I am reminded what it is like to mingle with the clouds.  

Clouds
For an hour I float.  I imagine I can stay here for as long as l like, up here where there are no proposals and no deadlines and my mind is free to wander wherever it likes.  I wonder, is that what they were thinking of when they thought up heaven?

mud and wine

“It’s still raining.”

I’m walking up to the car rental place on Saturday morning to retrieve the car in which my girls and I will drive down to the much anticipated Shores of Erie wine festival in our home town when Debbie calls. “Bring rubber boots, raincoats, umbrellas, tarps, dinghies – whatever you got. And for heaven’s sake, don’t wear anything white. Or nice.”

I’d been getting updates on the back home weather all week; it started pouring about five days previous and hadn’t stopped; until that moment I’d nicely avoided thinking about the consequences. And call me a reckless avoider, but I don’t even consider taking that freshly ironed white shirt out of my suitcase.

The back home weather report is inconceivable. It’s the most perfect morning of the entire year, and I wish we could move the entire festival four hours up the highway. Luscious September days like this are precious: sunny with a soft breeze – the kind that caresses your skin with the gentlest of kisses. There isn’t an ounce of humidity and the sky is so clear it sparkles.

After collecting the girls we get on the highway, happy in spite of the mucky news. The event is about old friends, wine, food and live music. Last year we had such a good time, seeing so many of my home people dishing out so much love. Add to that memory the gorgeousness of that September and the beautiful setting alongside a familiar river – not going was not an option.

Drive2

The luscious weather remains perfect for pretty much the whole ride down the highway. When we’re down to a half hour away, we begin to see layers of cloud formations: some thick and cotton-like, seemingly miles deep, others wispy and flying fast underneath them. And then the occasional black one hanging like a lame threat over some farm field.

When we finally pull into the yard at Debbie and Len’s, it’s stopped raining and Deb’s looking disbelievingly at the breaks of blue in the sky. We did our best to bring it along, we say.

 

MUD

The rolling grounds of Fort Malden are a sloppy mess. We’re talking barnyard. It seems no less crowded than last year. Apparently wine lovers are a serious lot, and no one is going to let a little rain and mud diminish any of their fun. Kind of like making lemonade out of life’s lemons, what was once a promenade of cute dresses and sandals has morphed into a parade of audacious wellies.

Boots 2

Thousands of pairs of audacious wellies – beautiful thing number sixty-three.

One doesn’t venture away from one’s table much this year for fear of going topsy turvy in the muck. And yes, I wore that white shirt. At one point Kelsey has to ask a bloke to give her a pull because she gets stuck. She isn’t the only one suffering mucky dilemmas. We witness a number of fall-downs one amusing one by a guy who is gallantly carrying a girl on his back. It is amusing because Princess is NOT pleased and climbs BACK on his slimy back for the rest of the journey to the paved walk about five feet away.

Next day, Sunday, the sun joins the party and by after lunch when we go back to the site, the conditions have improved considerably, and continue to do so until the event closes. Sarah Harmer, who we’d stayed the extra day to hear play charms everybody. With the crowds considerably thinned and the sun shining, it is a most pleasant day.

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They say that for a time Fort Malden served as a lunatic asylum. I’m amused by the thought of what those who walked the Fort Malden grounds a couple hundred years ago might be thinking from the vantage point of a netherworld, of these hoards of people in crazy-coloured rubber footwear happily wallowing around in acres of mud and seeming to celebrate that with endless toasting and good cheer.

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If I were one of those netherworld beings, I might see that party down there, mud and all as most definitely beautiful thing number sixty-four.