It is a cold morning with a wind at our back. This is the view at our destination this morning, looking southeast over Smith Bay and Waupoos Island across Lake Ontario. On the winter’s coldest days I swear if I squint hard enough I can see the blue skies over the Caribbean and that island in the sun, Barbados, just there off in the distance to the right side of the photo, just beyond the darkest bit of sky. Can you see it? Even so it would take a plane to get there.
Strange, or maybe not, on these bleak days when I dread stepping out into the cold and grey, there is always a moment when I finally say out loud, “this is so damn beautiful” (in all its harshness). It really is. It can be a smell from my childhood blowing down from the north. That familiar burn of cold on my cheeks. Or that forlorn northeastern sky that used to really give me chills to the bone, knowing that not much existed beneath it, but rock, Canadian Shield, perhaps an ice sheet if you went far enough, but, as far as I was concerned not much more. I wasn’t really that aware of Inuit settlements, polar bears, caribou or just how beautiful and vital landscape could be. I suppose it happens with experiences, memories, imagination and perhaps learning.
These nights though, I dream of warm tropical places, filled with light and the richness of warm colours, vegetation, unbridled growth. It’s as if the dreamworld is bringing me that experience to warm my soul as the wind blows the ice dry and smooth, rabbits huddle under the deck and small birds brace themselves as if the strong wind is just to be tolerated.
I dream too of crowded buildings and places where people gather, places like malls and galleries, open enclosed areas. I am not quite sure what my being is calling out for. Do I need the throng of humanity? I don’t think that is it, but there is something to it, a labyrinth maybe, or a grand puzzle, a maze which I must negotiate. I always have to make my way through these crowds, find something I’ve misplaced.
For all of the memories, desires and thoughts that accompany me on that stretch of road, I am very often dragged back to the present, because that is all there is. Warmer days will be here soon enough, my shoulders will relax, I’ll smell the richness from the marsh, the lake, the first hint of lilac and then when I look across the Bay it will be to that place, much closer, where we play in the cool clear water on a hot summer day.