So still and grey, it could’ve been the sky, but the lake’s small waves lapping on the shore whispered hello. I always feel at home by the water.
The campground was full of people and my yurt had little privacy, but I had miles of shoreline to myself. I was confused by the solitude. While I appreciated it (so. much.) I wondered if I’d missed some notice to stay away from the lake. Why wouldn’t everyone be here? But they weren’t, and I enjoyed hours of wandering along the calm beach until the sun started setting – I’d feel foolish if I got caught in the dark on unfamiliar trails.
I came to the Pinery provincial park to spend time outdoors. I’d pictured a winter wonderland, but a recent stretch of unseasonable warmth sent us in a time warp back to fall. The only nod to earlier snowfalls was that some of the beach turned out to be a sand-snow mix, which only became obvious when I – oops – stepped on a ledge near the water and it caved in. Back up near the yurts there was a thin hint of ice on the river’s edge, but since it was already 8 degrees (!) when I saw that on a pre-dawn walk, I didn’t think it would last long.
Last March, the kids and I stayed at a yurt at McGregor Point park and I knew this one would be busier. It’s popular for the same reason I chose it: Only an hour’s drive from London (Ontario) and minutes from Grand Bend, it’s the easiest way to get away from it all without going far away. Maybe I had the lakefront to myself because it’s a fair walk from the yurts, about 20 minutes if you take the most direct route and don’t get distracted by the views along the way 😊. There are great hiking trails all over the park, so I guess that’s where everyone was – there was no skiing or snowshoeing going on, that’s for sure!
Simple, and Not
I did not pack light for this short trip. Isn’t it ironic (🎶) that I can go for a week’s vacation with just a carryon bag but for a couple of days outside the city, I packed my trunk full? I needed bedding, water, food, dishes, utensils, toiletries, and clothing … and a beach chair and blankets for star-gazing. I don’t always enjoy the scanty hours of daylight in December, but long evenings of looking up at the night sky did their best to make up for it.
When I watched youtube videos about people living the ‘simple life’ in off-grid cabins, I used to (i.e., last week) think smugly, there’s nothing simple about having to figure out logistics of water and power and food. It seems like so much complicated effort … BUT … I’ve realized how urgent it is to stop taking those things for granted. I enjoy living in comfort, and a bit of time in a yurt now and then reminds me when I get home to be conscious of where my clean water is coming from, how I’m cooking our food, and where that food came from in the first place. I don’t know how we’re going to avoid worse climate crisis, but I won’t be so proud of packing light when that just means all the complicated issues are being hidden. I’m still proud of packing light as a sign of focusing on what’s really important, not on things (says the woman who carried a mug to the beach for a photo shoot).
A friend broke our no-gift rule this Christmas. She saw a couple of mugs she knew I’d love and then struggled to choose the best one. She did what any good (and ingenious) friend would do: A word search of my blog. It turns out I use the word “simple” really often, and the word “mindful” not so much. But … it’s the mindful part that’s really important, so here we are ❤️.
Back to the Water
I set out for a hike in the dark wee hours of the morning – well, not too wee, it was almost 7 am, I just waited until there was enough hint of dawn light that I could make out the path. I wandered dark forests until suddenly they changed to dunes and there I was at the lake for the sunrise. It faces the wrong way to see the actual sunrise but that early light is still magical, slowly bringing the world to life.
As I approached the lake this time it roared cheers of welcome, wind and waves exploding with energy. I wrote before about my ritual of release, where I stood by the ocean letting go of all sorts of emotional clutter. Well, being me, I had a ritual of welcome this time. I’ll write about it soon, but for now be assured I stood, arms outstretched as I called out above the noise of the surf, naming the things I’m welcoming into my life, as the waves carrying those things crashed onto the stony shore. Some combination of laughter and tears turned into exhilaration and all the weather’s raw energy filled my heart (while damp sandy air filled my eyes and hair).
I smiled the whole walk back, even feeling kindness toward a flock of Canadian Geese. If you don’t know these loathsome birds, consider yourself lucky: Legend has it that the reason Canadians are so nice is because all our nastiness was absorbed into the geese. To not feel contempt for them is a sign of deep joy indeed.
I’ll keep these warm feelings with me as the kids and I head up north to Mom’s soon, where it is (hopefully) still winter!