Monday, August 18, 2008

Leaving Canada

Goodbye Canada

Thursday, August 14th. How befitting that on the morning we left Blind River, Ontario and headed for the USA we would see a beautiful eagle perched on a jetty rock just outside our marina! It was right at 7am, and he must have known we were leaving—his beak was pointing the way for us! (We hadn’t seen as many eagles as I had wished we would, but I felt this sighting was especially poignant.) We had spent the night at the marina, eating on board, watching a little of the Olympics, and choosing to go to bed early in preparation for our crossing The North Channel Thursday—it looked to be a favorable day to cross this wide body of water. We’ve become so spoiled with calm waters, having been in small canals almost since coming to Canada, protected from the winds and waves by cliffs and trees.

We have been in Canada now for two months, and we will remember being here for so many reasons:

First and foremost, we left a sweet part of our lives, and a member of our family, in Penatanguishine—our precious dog, Buddy. I put it all in his obituary, but his absence is still felt, achingly, everyday. Our hearts will always have in them a special place for Canada.

We’ve had the absolute coolest summer of our lives! Take for example this morning, it was 52 degrees when we woke up, and the highs in the afternoons have been only in the mid 70’s, with very low humidity—fabulous! Although Canada has had a record breaking summer of rain, it hasn’t hampered us or detracted from our enjoyment one bit. Most days have been beautiful to travel, with rain coming in late afternoon—or storms overnight. So far, wind has not been a major factor, making us “lay-over” for days on end. We’ve seen glorious sunsets. It’s very tempting to want to spend every summer here.

We’ll take with us flashes of color—brown cottages with red roofs, wind-bent green pines and cedars, pink granite cliffs and rocks, “snow” topped mountains—actually huge boulders of white quartz, tall scarlet flowers in Hopewell Bay, aqua waters in Topaz Lake, white and blue sails, red canoes, orange moons, jet black squirrels, brown sea gulls, multicolored flowers in the locks, black and white loons, silver domed churches in Quebec, green-topped buildings in Ottawa, “pretty” colored paper money, fireworks in Montreal, and red mushrooms in the forest path—to name only a few.

We’ll take with us tastes of freshly caught pickerel and white fish, pea meal, poutine, freshly picked tiny wild blueberries, Fouquar’s (sp.?) ice cream, numerous “potluck” dinners, Canadian Labatt beer, and the very best fried chicken livers I’ve ever had in my life at Drummond Island (are you reading this Claire and Judy?!)—all so unexpected and delicious to us!

Loons singing their special song—the rushing sound of waterfalls—bag pipers so graciously piping us into a small town—sitting in the basilica in Montreal listening to an all French mass—ospreys chirping constantly overhead—small town church bells—having “Mama Mia” play through my head for days, after seeing the movie—all sounds of this particular summer. Blissful quietness being anchored in coves—all so wonderful.

I’ve saved perhaps the best for last; because it’s the faces I want to remember the most and will probably have the hardest time doing so. Smiling faces everywhere—from the exceptionally trained and staffed Parks Canada men and women in the lock system, to the helpful locals pointing the way for us “tourists”—the people of Canada have been wonderful hosts. Smiling faces of children when their eyes lit on Buddy—“a dog on the boat”! Smiling faces so interested in our journey, unbelieving and envious that we’ve come so far. Smiling faces of store clerks and restaurant waitresses, fuel pumpers, dock hands, and everyday people—there seems to be an attitude here of happiness—at least from our perspective. Even Canadian television appears to have an uplifting attitude and “take” on the daily news programs. There’s not one single occasion that either of us can remember where we’ve been slighted in the least—everyone has gone out of their way to make us feel welcomed. And all of it makes me want to be a better ambassador of my own country—making me more tolerant of, and patient with, others visiting where we live, and not just Canadians either--all "tourists". It’s not the big things we’ve seen and done so far on this trip that I will remember the most, it’s the kindness shown by total strangers at every turn that will keep me smiling with fond memories. After all, it’s an attitude—eh?

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