Land of the silver birch
Home of the beaver
Where once the mighty moose
Wandered at will
Blue lake and rocky shore *
We have returned once more.
When the world around us is crazy, we return to the places we love best. Despite growing up in Toronto (Ted) and Burlington (me) and living most pf our lives together in either Milton or Mississauga, it’s Collingwood that calls to us now that we’re retired.
“Finding” Collingwood was serendipitous for us. We had sold our home in Milton in 2010 after my mom died; the boys were both married and settled elsewhere, and we no longer had to be within emergency assistance range to mom in Oakville. Since Ted was still working in Mississauga and Toronto, and my job was in Burlington, we bought a condo in Mississauga that we thoroughly enjoyed for 7 years until my retirement. At that point, we knew we didn’t want to stay in Mississauga forever.
Son #1 was living in the Toronto condo that we had originally bought (from plans) as our retirement home. It has turned out to be a location and community perfect for a young professional couple, but not so perfect for us. Son #2 and his family were still living on base at CFB Greenwood in Nova Scotia, waiting to hear where their next posting would be; that would determine where we’d need to go to visit our 3 grandsons.
Our thinking was that we’d spend winters somewhere warm, and summers near whichever base they were posted at. This was right around the time we made the jump to being nomadic, so we were open to living anywhere, and moving as often as we wished. We toyed with Wolfeville Nova Scotia, home of Acadia University, about half an hour from Greenwood. We thought about all the great options on Vancouver Island if their posting was to Comox. We wondered about retirement communities near CFB Trenton in Ontario. We really hoped he would not get posted to Cold Lake Alberta! In the end, his posting was as an instructor at CFSATE (the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering) at CFB Borden in Angus, Ontario. They bought a house in the little bedroom community of Stayner…. and we rented our first summer accommodation in nearby Collingwood.
I’ve written lots of blog posts about how wonderful Collingwood is (“Pause”, plus Episodes 6.1, 27, 28, 32, 33), and it looks like now I’ll have the chance to write more, because the global COVID19 pandemic has shut down our travel plans for the next 18 months (the time experts estimate will be needed for a vaccine to be developed and made readily available).
Social/physical distancing has meant that for the past 6 weeks our activity outside the safe space of our summer condo has been, for the most part, walking the quiet trails in the woods and marshland behind our building. Trails are open only as socially distanced thoroughfares; “congregating” with anyone outside one’s own household is still prohibited, even outdoors.
None of this has prevented anyone from smiling and waving as we pass them (in fact, one of the printed Town of Collingwood COVID signs suggests doing both – just from 6 feet or more apart ! ), and there is nothing to discourage us from enjoying the first signs of a late spring just arriving: budding trees, the early shoots of day lilies and narcissus, fat robins, noisy red-winged blackbirds, scurrying rabbits and squirrels, and our first wetland egret sighting of the year.
A couple of days ago we ventured along the shoreline path at Lighthouse Point (where we’ll be living during the coming non-travel winter). There was a light breeze, and the waters of the bay were shimmering as they lapped against the rock breakwater. That’s when the words of one of our traditional Canadian folk songs sprang to mind: “blue lake and rocky shore, I will return once more”.
We have returned. And while we are disappointed about needing to defer both my cousins’ visit from Germany and our 7 months in Europe, we are looking forward to spending the next 18 months near both our sons, in this beautiful part of Canada.
• Land of the silver birch, traditional Canadian folk song from the 1920’s