Sunday, April 15, 2007

Guest blogger number 4: Gorthos takes us for a walk

(Presqu'ile Provincial Park, Ontario and on Lake Ontario)
My offbeat blogging friend Gorthos visits this afternoon with a sweet springtime remembrance and essay. He loves the outdoors and nature, and I truly appreciate what he wrote here. We all need to pack the marshmallows and meet there, maybe July 4. He tells us:


When I was a kid I didn't particularly like spring in the city. I lived
for Winter with the cold fresh air, snow forts, tobagging and crystal
clear nights. To me, spring was a sloppy, wet, mushy, dirty season
where you never knew if a trip across a grassy field meant the discovery
of a recently defrosted reminder of someone's dog walking experience a
month or three earlier. I also (as I do now) loved fall with the leaves
to rake and the ability to finally hide my nerdling skinny
self-conscious self in big bulky sweaters and jackets. It is still my
favorite time of the year and if there was a place in the world where it
was autumn three seasons a year, I would definitely plan on retiring
there to run an antiquarian bookshop specializing in gothic horror and
romance (how seasonal one might say).

Every spring, my father and mother would have plans for the weekends
cleaning the abode, removing plastic from the windows, re-decorating
perhaps, baking and the ever popular family trip to the park. By park,
I mean the greatest family oriented provincial park in Ontario,
Presqu'ile Provincial Park near Brighton Ontario. We would load up in
the van (a funky though embarrassing white Ford Econoline 150 with shag
carpeting, a bed in the back, beads, wood paneling and yes, red and
orange thinly lined flames from the front to the back that Mom painted
(quite well I might add) and head off down Highway 2 to Brighton. It
was the high point of an otherwise grubby down season.

In the spring, before the park opened for camping for the season, you
could pay a small fee in a drop box and drive on in. We would go to the
shore of Lake Ontario to throw rocks, sometimes past the remaining lake
ice at the edge of the shore, pretending it was summer for the fifteen
minutes or so prior to our realization that the skin freezing wind off
of the lake and the crashing surf mist were making Popsicles of us and
we fled to the warmer greening nestling of the forest. We would pick
pussywillows, this being before the age of "DON'T PICK ANYTHING" or at
least before the rangers started enforcing such regulations. We would
take the occasional photo, search for and deftly hide the occasional
trilobite in our vehicle and when cold and hungry, pile in, buckle up
(or more often, don't buckle up) and drive around the whole park looking
for our preferred choice spots for the upcoming season.

Now Presqu'ile is a decently sized park. Four hundred plus spots,
varying areas from maples, pine and bluff, open spots, closed in,
private and communal sites. We knew the place like the backs of our
hands but we still did the tour to make a group decision on where to try
to spend out summer weekends and a couple of weeks a year. Mom would
write down the site numbers on a scrap of paper or an old park map from
the glove box. We all had our faves though mom and dad usually won out
but in truth it didn't really matter where we ended up, it was
Presqu'ile and the whole process made the anticipation begin to mount,
which it would each week until the long weekend in May when we knew, the
camping would start.

I can honestly say, the happiest moments of my youth occurred at
Presqu'ile, where I have camped since I was a mere 6 month old lovechild
of the 60s.

We haven't made our family visit yet this year because honestly, for the
first time in my life, I may not make it to Presqu'ile to camp. From
our new house it is almost a 2 hour drive to get there. We live in the
country and have our own forest to play in. Friends are convincing me
to camp in the Kingston area for a change and I may just have to
acquiesce to their logic. But I still plan on visiting and looking at
the sites and pining for a weekend or two to relax, have a fire, sip an
ale and throw rocks with the boys into the lake while gulls and terns
swoop overhead searching for a stray silver minnow to snatch up. And as
I am in reminiscing mode and feeling nostalgic, I'll let you in on a
little secret, the best site in the park is in the 250's but I'll let
you do the research work yourself to find it.


celeste said...

Well done, Gorthos. You've even managed to inspire me. And I don't camp.

gr said...

considering he is such a goofball, nice job here, huh?
I am not a camper either, but would like to visit there also, in the daytime.

Gordo The Geek said...

Presqu'ile is an amazing place. That's all I have to say. :-D

Anonymous said...

There is so much to do there you can fil a day and never set bum in a tent!

Mother of Invention said...

What a beauty memory, Gordo! Here in S. Ontario, we tend to do the Muskoka, Parry Sound and Algonquin direction but I have heard great things about your area.