Summer Breeze

A monarch butterfly with folded wings in black, orange and white, against a concrete background.

Summer has officially arrived – it hit the calendar first, but the weather has finally caught up. Hot, sunny days, gentle breezes and the lapping of calm water at the shoreline…who could ask for more? As most of you already know, I love the summer – the heat, the sunshine, the lazy days at the park/beach/cottage…this is what makes the miserable northern winter almost bearable (notice I said “almost” … the older I get, the less I can handle the cold.)┬áThe summer months in Orillia are usually fabulous, and made even better by the many events that take place here ┬áduring the long summer days, and balmy summer evenings.

There are boat shows, outdoor festivals of music, parades, car shows, art events, Scottish Festival, downtown sidewalk sales – there is just about something for everyone. Seldom a summer weekend goes buy without a large planned event – one that brings thousands of visitors and tourists into town.

Shriners in their little orange cars participating in a Canada Day ParadeMost of the time I’ll steer clear of a lot of these larger events because they draw so many visitors. It’s not that I mind visitors, but huge crowds will sometimes send me into panic mode. I usually venture down to the vintage car show, and occasionally the parades and in it’s early days the Scottish Festival, but for the most part I’d rather be at one of the nearby nature areas or out in the boat. There, it’s much more peaceful.

Each year the summer seems more fleeting than the last, but it always evokes childhood memories of summers that Long stretches of sand and trees at Wasaga Beachseemed to last nearly til forever. We lived in “the big city” where it was always hot…hotter than hot sometimes, and my sister and I would wait anxiously for the day when our parents would take us to “the cottage”. Oh, it wasn’t our cottage but it was owned by my dad’s brother and sister. It was surrounded by sand and you could smell that wonderful smell of “lake”, even though it was one row back from the beach. You could see the lake, and the beach too from the cottage lot. The “second row” of cottages was raised maybe 4 or 5 feet above those directly on the beach, and one had to reach the front yard by mounting half a dozen steps. Since the cottages were built slightly staggered from the ones in the first row, the beach could be seen between the two in front, and the properties behind had an easement or allowance that allowed them to walk between the front cottages right to the beach. We spent our days running for miles (or so it felt) along the hard-packed sand of the beach, with blue skies overhead and the sound of seagulls filling our senses. There are times when I long for that again…we weren’t rich, or even middle-class back then, but life was so simple in childhood. The pleasures were simple too, and although I have gone up the hill and I’m heading down the other side, I still relish simple pleasures…hot sand between my toes, the gentle splash of waning waves washing over my ankles at the shore, the sound of seagulls, and walking miles along the hard-packed sand.

Sand sky and waves at Wasa Beach.The cottage is still there. It still isn’t ours. My parents and most of their siblings are gone now, but the cottage is still in the hands of family, at least for now. This summer, like many others…we’re going back. If only for a day. The simple pleasures of summer are tugging at my heartstrings, like the memories of those people long gone. “The Cottage” will always be a part of me, and my heart always longs for it’s peace and the gentle, simple sounds of weedays on an empty stretch of sand … as though I were the only person in the world, solitary, but not lonely.

Uh, sorry…wool gathering there. What I had intended to write about went “out the door” as I was remembering those long ago summers! In honour of summer, today here’s some summer photos – flowers and gardens and parades – most of these are from the summer of 2010.

A small  garden with a pre-formed pond and fountain birdbath.
A clear pond are in a wetland marsh  with floating lily leaves.
A single white waterlily in marsh pond.
Bright yellow chrysanthemums blooming in garden.
Colour guard from the Royal Canadian Legion marching on Canada Day
That’s it for now – you know the drill; use the photos you want in your blog or website – follow the license terms and…happy blogging. You may not see me here at my computer much this summer, but if you can find that beach…I’ll probably be there!

author: J. Gracey Stinson