Thursday, August 29, 2013

"Our Candianan Holiday - Part Four"

My brother, his wife Nancy, myself and my wife Dr. M head for the country, 150 or so miles north of Toronto.  Land of the silver birch, home of the…I don’t remember the rest.)  

Our first stop is the camp my we used to go to.  My brother met his future wife at this camp.  As did I.  Not my wife.  I met his wife there too.  (Guffaw.)
Snapshot reaction of my return to a camp I had gone to for thirteen summers:  The surroundings remembered me.  The buildings did not. 

They couldn’t.  They hadn’t been built yet.  Everything not naturally there had been altered, including the camp’s name after it was purchased.  The Counselor’s Lounge had morphed into the Rec Hall.  The former Rec Hall was now the Arts and Crafts Building.  The Mess Hall was in the same place, but it had been rebuilt and expanded.  I cannot vouch for the food, as our visit did not include a meal, but I can imagine an upgraded cuisine.  I promised our guide, the owner’s daughter, I would not make a face, and then I asked her how much it costs to go there for two months.  The quoted price was almost twenty times higher than when I was a camper. Full Disclosure:  I did make a small face.

The camp’s layout was the same, and they hadn’t moved the lake, though the water skiing area boasted six motorboats to our one.  (Well two, but one was always broken.)  There is no way around it; it was a fancier camp.  And their programs no longer focused on consciousness-raising world events such as the Hungarian Revolution (including teams like “The Workers”, “The Students”, “The Miners” and “The Farmers.”)  Instead, a camper’s mother informed me, one recent camp-wide program involved the burning question of where the camp owner and his wife should go on their upcoming vacation, the competing team names representing luxury travel destinations from around the world.

What I’m saying is, it's different. 

The campers looked like I once did – healthy but soft – and the energy felt the same, a positive vibe, with kids waiting to go swimming group-singing songs from the show they had put on the night before, Beauty and the Beast.  I was fortunate to be introduced to the eleven year-old who played the Beast.  He didn’t look that bad. 

Overall, there was something missing in the experience.  Maybe I had left my return visit too long.  Maybe I was anticipating a bigger emotion shtoch (stab in the heart.)  Or maybe I was just jealous that, rather than a camper, I looked more like a camper’s grandfather.  Still, with all my misgivings, as my brother noted, I appeared in no hurry to leave. 

There is still something about it, I suppose.  But it is apparent that a (long overdue) “handover” is in order.  The camp now belongs fresher faces, people who are really nine, rather than people who believe they are.

Our temporary Northern Ontario home, the Colonial Inn, was not far away, on Peninsula Lake.  (Here’s how “not far away.”  The camp in on Fox Lake.  Fox Lake empties into Lake Vernon, which empties into Mary Lake, which empties into Fairy Lake, which empties into Peninsula Lake.  You could paddle by canoe from camp to the inn in less than a day.  Of course, if you drive, it takes ten minutes, so we drove. 

Yesterday I referenced (including a picture) “Ragged Falls”, where I braved jagged rocks and tumbling waters for an exciting “photo op.”  The “backstory” of that picture is that while Dr. M hiked half a mile down the hill to retrieve and return with her phone-camera, it began to rain rather heavily, meaning I was not only in jeopardy, I was also getting wet.  Honoring my spouse’s effort, however, I refused to seek shelter until she returned.  

Wasn't that nice?  I'd say so.  Would I be nicer if I hadn't blown my own horn?  I suppose.  But how nice does a person have to be

We stopped at Algonquin Outfitters for a souvenir baseball cap and a t-shirt with a moose on it (although I had canoe tripped to the Park many times and had never once seen a moose.  I did see a skunk.  But a t-shirt saying, "Algonquin Park - You Might See A Skunk"?  You're better off touting an invisible moose. 

Among Algonquin Outfitters other offerings was a confection I had never seen before – “Ant Candy”, which came in three flavors – apple, watermelon and banana.  I mean, maybe it’s a joke but the “List of Ingredients” – I mean, can they mess around with the “List of Ingredients”?   It says it right there on the package:  “List of Ingredients” – mallot syrup, ants, artificial flavoring, and coloring.” 

Truth in Advertising.  The flavoring and coloring are artificial.  But the ants, apparently, are real.     

And people actually buy that?

The Colonial Inn had visitors from as far away as Germany.  But I was more interested in my fellow Canadians.  You could easily pick them out because they said things like, “We live just across the border from Detroyit.  We arrived here early Satterday morning.” 

The guy sounded weird.  Though it’s possible I once sounded the same way myself.

There’s a part of me that does not know the rest of me is old.  Apparently, my older brother is in possession of a similar component.  And so, belying our ages – of slightly under and slightly over seventy – we hopped into a canoe provided by the inn, me manning the bow (in front), he, the stern (you steer from the back), and we paddled across the lake.  I’d been fearful that upper back issues might preclude such activities.  But my upper back said, “Paddling is fine.  Just don’t make me hoist heavy suitcases off of the airport carousel.  That’s just asking for an appointment with the “Horse Doctor’” (my bodywork specialist who repositions my body parts, until I do it again.)

For me, this was the highlight of our Northern Excursion:  two Jews in a canoe.  Paddling peacefully on the glassy-smooth waters of Peninsula Lake.

I wish I had a picture of that. 

I’ll have to settle for the picture in my mind.

After three spirit-enriching days, we returned to Toronto, where my friend Alan had procured two ducats for a Blue Jays-Dodgers game, at which, surprisingly, I found myself rooting for the Dodgers, (and, less surprisingly, the Dodgers won.)  Late in the game, when the Jays had pulled ahead, the local fans, who to that point had been acting like attendees at a “tail-gait” party where there happened to be a ballgame going on, finally started to root.  The Dodgers went on to trounce the Blue Jays 8-3, the lesson learned, at least according to the defeated faces of the departing faithful, “That’s what you get for rooting.” 

Early the next morning, we went to the airport, on our way to the Indianan leg of “Our Candianan Holiday.”  Waiting to depart, the Toronto paper I was reading heralded the wonderful news:

“Piano Stolen From Hospital Recovered"

(See:  "Our Candianana Holiday - Part Two:")

I wonder what the miscreants were charged with:  “Grand Theft – Piano” of “Theft – Grand Piano.”

A departing conundrum. 

Something I could think about on Chickadee Trail.


JED said...

Now that I know the effort that went into the taking of yesterday's picture, Dr. M's hiking back to get the camera and your standing out in the rain (I'm guessing it also rained on Dr. M), I'm even more impressed with that picture. And to think it was taken on a camera in a phone. Another reason to be impressed.

Frank said...

Hope it wasn't a poor jazz musician that stole the keys eh.

PALGOLAK said...

"Land of the silver birch,
Home of the Beaver,
Follow the wild goose flight,
dip dip and swing"
is, I believe, that verse.