Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Beach

It’s September. I’m not ready for it to be September. Tracy K called Friday night and said it’s supposed to be lovely weather this weekend and it’s the last summer weekend – want to go to the beach? I said, Yes.

This is Long Point, in southern Ontario. It is, to me, The Beach. A thin spot. The drive there takes three years (it’s about 100 km) and the drive home takes 20 minutes. It’s wonderful – you drive through Norfolk County, with it’s wide-apart farms. The ditches are full of flowers – white Queen Anne’s Lace and blue cornflowers, or orange daylilies, or some kind of yellow lilies. Sunday we went past a farm where they’d sown a six- or eight-foot strip of sunflowers around the perimeter of the farm. Short ones – they looked maybe waist height on me. (And I’m 5’2”.) The flowers were yellow, and I think there were thousands of them. A little further on, a field of pumpkins – the foliage had died back, and the pumpkins were pale orange in the sun. There’s willow trees and birch trees, and pines. And it’s not all lovely – there’s tent caterpillars too, and a really bad infestation in some parts of the county this year.

Long Point is a UNESCO Biosphere preserve. It’s on the migration path for a great many birds, and there’s a couple of annual counts. There’s a lighthouse, and there are an enormous number of wrecked ships around it. It’s a sand spit that runs parallel to the north shore of Lake Erie, directly south of Brantford, Ontario, and if you go south from there, the next thing after the water is Erie, Pennsylvania. The water’s shallow a long way out, and there are sand bars that shift, and baats run aground. The people who lived there over a hundred years ago, some of them made their living “blackbirding”. They’d put up lights to fake a lighthouse, and lure ships onto sandbars, and plunder them.

The sandbars make this a lovely beach for families. Because the water’s shallow and it’s all sand, it’s good for children, when the water and wind are calm and there’s no undertow. I had a great many of my birthdays there, and I’m sure I was there by my first birthday. My grandparents had a trailer and used to take it to the provincial park for weekends, with a pair of grandchildren along each time. My parents bought tents, and took us camping in the New Campground. My soon-to-be-ex-husband’s family used to rent a cottage down the other end of the Point, and have tents there too. When our son (now 26) was little, we took him tenting there. Tracy thinks it would be a good idea if we went camping next summer, and within two hours of getting home on Sunday, I’d arranged to borrow a tent. I have to tell you, the invention of 30SPF sunscreen has made the days following a trip a lot more comfortable for me.

I didn’t take these pictures Sunday; I took them in July, on a day with my aunt and my cousin. That’s their backs you see walking down the beach. It was wild that day – the strongest undertow I recall there. It was aerobic just standing hip-deep in the water, and we couldn’t really swim, just ride the waves. I’ve put in pictures of the water, which is grey because all that undertow stirred up the sand. And the sand dunes. And some beach grasses. The marsh, between the spit and the mainland. Also, a savannah sparrow, which we think was hurt – it didn’t take off when I was taking this. I did get an awful lot of pictures of a little square of empty sand though.

I’ve been three times this summer, and it’s helped restore me. That, and those rocks in the previous post. This place is timeless for me, very special. God can get at me more easily there, that’s what I said after the first visit this summer. It is so terribly difficult to leave. It’s an easy place to be, on a day like this Sunday, and it can be terribly hard – the thunderstorms that blow in are ferocious, and the ice build-ups have wrecked houses too close to the water. I remember my Papa stopping the car on the Causeway, to lift a big snapping turtle off the road, and into the side of the marsh it was heading for.


FranIAm said...

Oh... wow. Gorgeous photos and imagery from your words.

Thank you Kate - thank you.

And I love your jeans picture.

Kate Morningstar said...

Thank you, Fran -- somehow, you always seem to get here first! It's easy to take good pictures at Long Point and on Georgian Bay -- everything to look at is so beautiful.

The jeans picture was kinda silly and fun to take -- I'd been telling someone about them, and was ready and waiting for others to be ready to leave Parry Sound, admiring my own legs, and took the picture.

Oystercard said...


Thanks for taking me there - I love sand dunes and that sort of wild land.

Sherry said...

so ,so lovely and healing!

Jan said...

Nice. I didn't know there were beaches in Canada! (duh)

Kate Morningstar said...

Derek, come back to North America some time, and I'll take you for real.

Sherry, healing is exactly what it is for me to go there. I've been three times this summer -- after the first one, I barely spoke to anyone for 24 hours, because I just needed to be focused on what was inside after.

Jan, some of the Great Lakes beaches are fabulous. The water pulverizes all those big slabs of granite up around Lake Superior and Lake Huron, and washes the sand downward. There are beautiful ocean beaches in the Maritime provinces and on the Pacific coast too. Pagan Sphinx has some east coast pictures at her place.

Crimson Rambler said...

you remind me of my last visit to Agawa Bay on Superior...glorious sparkling day, beach empty, visitors all in the visitors' centre in the theatre in the dark watching a video about waves. WTF, I said.
And the sand was wonderful.