Certain days are "sailing class" days, and you know it because there are lots of sailboats out there sailing around in circles. It's a pretty sight. I was kind of late catching these shots, the numbers had dwindled for tonight; however it was the most compelling thing out there tonight.
Yesterday I’m trying out a little Italian place near my home I’ve not eaten at before. Contrary to my current diet efforts (particularly after that crazy sandwich in Pittsburgh), I order a nice little flatbread pizza with prosciutto and tomato and a glass of chardonnay.
Two families come in with very tiny baby girls in slings and a little boy. I think of my two brand new grand-nieces and, to borrow a phrase from my Aunt Sharon, my eyes leaked a little.
They order glasses of water as their beverages, and enter into a discussion about the types of bottled water they drink, debating which types are healthier; which have too much calcium and those that have too much fluoride, and the others that have not been filtered enough, and then the ones that are filtered too much. The debate carries on about ten minutes and ends with one of the young husbands sounding so pompous in his delivery and pedantic in reasoning, especially when he snaps at his wife and I think she must be silently cursing him and the source of his vast knowledge on the topic.
I’m itching to jump in and give him my two-cents about the scary implications of us letting drinking water become a consumer item and the vast amounts of completely unnecessary waste bottled water causes because people let themselves get scared into believing that it is “safer” and “healthier” than tap water. In some countries it is. In Canada where there is treated water, it’s not. (Unless you live on a First Nations reserve – but that’s a whole other rant kettle of fish.)
But my opinions on bottled water are neither here nor there in this story. The server arrives to take the orders and three out of the four adults, plus the little boy, gets Fettuccini Alfredo.
I guess a plateful of over-the-top calories, saturated fat, processed white flour and probably too much sodium is off the radar for these health-conscious folks.
I take sip of my own favourite bottled beverage and think maybe my dinner choice wasn’t all that bad.
This is a response to Willow's latest Magpie Tales visual creative writing prompt. I'm two days late posting – but I liked the prompt, it's timely, and it furthers a bloggy theme that has revealed itself this week.
Last week I had dinner with an old family friend from back home who, like me, picked up stakes and came to Toronto and has settled herself in the Beaches. There’s something about living near the water that seems right, I said, and she agreed.
She and I both grew up near the Detroit River, and it’s a waterway that features prominently in the essences of both Amherstburg and Windsor where I spent most of my life. When I left the area, I was given several pieces of art to remind me of home – two featuring ships on the Detroit River and a one of a great blue heron in the marshlands off Lake Erie.
In my last few years there I walked by the river many nights and I recall the change that came over me the instant I came off my street to the river’s side – inhaling the air affected every pore – it was electrifying. Since leaving Windsor I’ve hovered down near Lake Ontario as close as my budget would allow. Many people have asked me why I subject myself to such a long transit commute to my job on the north end of the city, and while there is certainly the “cool factor” of living right in one of this city’s marvellous neighbourhoods, the idea of being landlocked has always loomed when I considered where next to hang my hat.
And as one might generate from the previous couple of posts, the world of rivers and lakes has always had a place at our table by way of our sailor dad. Having a tug captain for a father was a novel thing to tell your friends – no one else’s father was a tug captain. It certainly wasn’t the happiest situation for him to go away for periods of time when we were small, but I think it’s probably one of the sources of the independence in my sisters and me; at the very least it’s attuned us to the sensibility of a sailor. That kind of life isn’t for everyone, but it was for my dad, his brothers, his father and generations before them.
Something else that has probably played a part on my gravitation to the watery side of things is the fact that a quarter of my bloodline features a whole bunch of islanders. Some of them came over from the Western Isles of Scotland to land themselves on the Manitoulin Island in Ontario. Aside from the hunk of land under their feet, water is the central thing to an islander’s existence. Many make their living on the water. They are aware of its gifts and its dangers – it is both life giving and perilous. And for islanders, it’s the road out.
The need to feel free is one of the fiercest desires in me – probably more of a burden than a boon. I always blamed it on having emerged from a bad marriage, but really, I’m thinking it goes much deeper than that. Being near the water somehow appeases that need for freedom – maybe there is some tiny gene way down somewhere in my body that is appeased by the sense that I’m always near the road out. Or maybe it's some random genetic link to some fisherman who once cast out his nets searching for the thing that will get him through the next day.
Maybe the water simply carries some internal symbolism of the grand search. It’s not such a bad thing, to be always searching – the idea that there’s something new around the corner is renewing. And renewing is better than stagnating.
So me and my inner fisherman will carry on with the nightly water walks and ponder the grand search. Or maybe we won't.
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