The wait is over

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There is a palpable energy in the air in my small town – a feeling only locals can understand when we are within arms reach of getting our town back.  The Labor Day Long Weekend is upon us and, for those who are fortunate enough to have today off, that means a three-day weekend.  The multiple-lane highways that once allowed travelers to reach our vacation destinations in Muskoka are already becoming congested in the Southbound lanes and the stress levels of those trapped in their cars in slow-moving traffic is escalating exponentially.

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But as the tension increases in those turtle-paced vehicles leaving our little piece of paradise, the stress in the minds of the locals slowly abates.  Faces that have not been seen during the summer daylight hours slowly peek out of their windows, tentatively gauging the right time to emerge from their summer hibernation and engage in the life we left behind a few months ago.

The summer is over.  We have survived the tumultuous invasion of a population that we graciously accept for two months, although their civility leaves much to be desired.  We have overcome the barbarity of those who demand instead of ask, of those who expect instead of request.

And along with the manners of our city guests, my writing brain and my spare time to read have been held hostage but the window of those long-lost opportunities has finally been cracked open.  The breath of rekindling those passions has been blown into the stale air that I have been breathing the last few months and the breeze of creativity has begun to churn the dead leaves in the corners of my mind.  There really is light at the end of our summer tourism tunnel.

I hope you all had a great summer and I look forward to greeting the many faces, and blogs, I have missed over the last couple of months!

The road already travelled

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“Time moves in one direction, memory in another.” ~ William Gibson

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  When you least expect it, what began as a glimpse into your subconscious suddenly floods your senses and overwhelms you with thoughts of the past.  It could be a song lyric, a smell or an old picture that triggers the trip down memory lane but, regardless of how the journey begins, the open road to your past looms behind and begs for you to follow it.

 

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On occasion that journey can feel like you have stepped through a portal into the time-space continuum and have completely ensconced yourself in that moment so many years ago.  You can visualize the wallpaper on the walls that no longer exist in reality but feel like they are an arm’s length away if you reached out to touch them.  You can inhale fragrant scents and feel the presence of the person who used to wear that particular perfume or cologne.  That one song can play and transport you back to the time and place you have associated so strongly with those lyrics.

That road that stretches behind us still waits for us whenever we feel the beckoning pull of sentimentality.  Venturing down that protected surface serves to remind us where we’ve been but will always afford us the opportunity to turn around and forge ahead into the future.

Understanding and embracing those things from our past can only motivate us to continue.  We carve the paths of our progressive journey knowing that the moments that have shaped us will always be there to remind us of where we have been and where we have since chosen to go.

When did I become THIS person?

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I would never have described myself as being overly adventurous in my youth.  I wasn’t afraid to try new things in my teens and early twenties but my limits for risky undertakings were much higher then and now my willingness to live on the edge (or a reasonable facsimile of the edge) has completely diminished.

I have not felt the desire for wanderlust that seems to be an affliction for so many of my friends.  I am content to live vicariously through the tales of their adventures and to witness their triumphs through the photographic journey that they provide as a backdrop for the narrative of their experience.

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I have always been a homebody.  I prefer a “staycation” to a long line in an airport terminal with the risk of acquiring some form of contagious bacteria to bring home as a souvenir.  I would not go so far as to say that I have become a recluse but the evidence is mounting and the verdict could completely contradict my argument for my defense.

Where once I would brave the terrain and the elements, I now shy away from driving in bad weather.  I don’t like driving at night anymore because my eyesight feels somewhat compromised in the dark and I make the excuse that it is for the safety of the other drivers on the road.  And I shrink into my couch every time gale force winds undulate through the bare branches and howl outside of my window.

But I have come to realize that my plight is not one of fear.  It is one of freedom.  I have allowed myself to be just that, myself.  I am not going to jump behind the wheel of my car because someone thinks I am paranoid and I want to prove them wrong.  I make no excuses.  I ask for no sympathy.  I simply live the way I want to live.  I am quite content to sit in my living room with my computer in my lap and blog about the fact that I am comfortable becoming THIS person.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Living a thousand lives

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“The man who reads lives a thousand lives before he dies, said Jojen.  The man who never reads lives only one.”

 George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

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There is something divinely quieting about a good book.  It can take all of the external forces in our lives and make them seem non-existent for a few moments. Losing ourselves in a great story line can give us a temporary escape from reality and take us on a journey to a life outside of our own.

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Although authors don’t write with us in mind, their words can give us a momentary reprieve from the demons that stalk us throughout our busy days, those demons who try to dwell in the hours that we would like spend in solitude. When you open a novel or turn on an E-reader, the chaotic minutes that you have survived during your work day cease to exist and the outside world becomes a distant memory.

If you are one of the fortunate few who can switch your work brain to the “off” position, you allow yourself to become fully involved in the plot line that the author has created. You send yourself on a journey far beyond the realm of your existence.  The words on the page seep into your mind and you become lost in the world of fiction.

Those words, the way they are woven into a complex story line, allow us the ability to sink into a place of imagery and intrigue.  Those words have the power to enlighten us, torture us, amuse us, make us cry and keep reality at bay as long as we will let them.

We owe it to ourselves to relish those moments of escape.  We need to permit ourselves to embrace the worlds beyond our own and tune out the brash sounds of our real lives by bathing in the dulcet tones of fictitious adventure. Do yourself a favor…..grab a book, turn off the television and let yourself be transported by the rhythm of words.  You will be surprised at how simple it is to live a thousand lives.

 

Good for the economy but bad for my temperment

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I am going to do my utmost not to turn this post into a rant, but I make no promises.

The population in our tiny town explodes from May to October.  Cottagers and tourists alike flock to our little oasis to drink from our serene waters, to sip from the fountain of relaxation and to let every ounce of their city stress slowly dissipate until they resemble nothing of their former city-dwelling selves.  This is what we are selling and this is what they are buying.

This year seems to have hit an all-time high for human traffic.   Stores are reaping the benefits of the excess numbers of shoppers, our local Foodland check-outs are all lined up six shoppers deep but I have learned to adjust my shopping schedule accordingly.

We get it.  We are not new to this phenomenon and we learn to adapt to our new routines to keep our sanity.   But there are moments that we cannot control – moments when we have to shop during the peak times and it is during these times I lose my sense of humor.

Blatant rudeness and uncaring attitudes run rampant.  You may think I am simply frustrated from working long hours and dealing with unbearably hot temperatures, but I have first-hand experience of the uncaring attitude of some of our summer guests.  My latest encounter today prompted me to vent write this post.

I pulled into the liquor store and was shocked to get a parking spot without having to wait.   I noticed three carts left on the sidewalk in front of the store, collected them and returned them to their rightful place inside the store.  Wine in hand, I moved to the tills and the line moved quickly.  I was lucky to get in and out without incident.   The woman who was parked beside me had just loaded her box of goodies into her BMW SUV and lifted her cart up over the curb, leaving it on the sidewalk.  I got into my car, made eye contact with BMW lady and then she and I both watched as her cart slowly rolled backwards, tipped over the curb and landed on my front bumper.  Not missing a beat, she slid her vehicle into reverse, no apology, not a shred of remorse, backed out of her spot to head back to her restful vacation spot.

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I could feel my blood pressure rising before the color of my cheeks betrayed me.  I got out of my car, checked my bumper and wheeled her cart back in to the store to avoid having this happen to another car.

These are the people who frustrate me.  These are the people who make me believe that, to them, other people just don’t matter.  I may have ranted in an earlier blog and received many varying comments, perhaps rightfully so, but my rants are justified.  Ask yourself how you would have reacted in that situation.  For me, I would never have left the cart in the first place but, I would certainly  have jumped out of my car to make sure the other vehicle had not sustained any damage.

Rant over.   What would you have done?

 

 

 

 

“Touricide” and a brief message to the transient population

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It has already begun and the long weekend is still days away.  The simple act of easily turning left onto any of our local roads is a shadowed memory of its former self.  They have descended upon us and the seemingly mundane tasks we used to perform with ease now require an expletive filter and a great deal of patience (or high blood pressure pills) (or both).

Almost three years ago, I wrote this post about the tourist season in our small town.  It was that post that sparked some interesting conversation about these wayward travelers and also got me Freshly Pressed.  To those not ensconced in the WordPress blogging world, being Freshly Pressed was a nice pat on the back.  We were recognized for writing something interesting that would encourage a discussion.  And that it did…..on many levels.

I will preface the words that follow by reminding you that I work in the hospitality and tourism industry.  My job is to serve people and I truly enjoy it.  Our lodge guests have slowly become like friends and family and it is a pleasure to go to work.  But the myriad of other temporary inhabitants of our little village are a like a box of chocolates and, as Forrest Gump so eloquently put it, you never know what you’re gonna get.   I realize that these summer vacationers are the bread to our butter, the wind beneath our small town wings, but, as each year rolls into the next, the level of courtesy and manners shown by a substantial percentage of these visitors leaves much to be desired.

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The act of “Touricide” has crossed my mind at many points throughout our busy seasons.  I’m sure if the facts of my potential case were presented to a jury of my peers the charges against me would be dropped and the crime would be ruled as justifiable.

I don’t mind that our population explodes exponentially in the summer months.  I plan accordingly knowing my routine tasks will take much longer because the lines have quadrupled in length.  I leave my house much earlier to deal with the sudden onset of traffic in a town where six cars on the road in the spring is considered gridlock.

What I cannot tolerate is the arrogant attitude of so many of these visitors, thinking we live in this town only to serve them in the summer.  You have entered our home.  We have greeted you with courtesy and respect and all we ask in return is the same level of civility.  We will bend over backwards to meet your needs and we ask so little of you.  Smile.  Say thank you, and mean it.  Take a moment to appreciate that you are on vacation and relax.  Things may not get done at city speed but they will get done and we will make sure they get done properly and that they meet or exceed your expectations.

I wish everyone celebrating the long weekend a safe and happy holiday.  Take the time to smile and say hello to a stranger.  Perhaps all they need is a little small town warmth to melt that cold city shell.

The writing on the wall

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robert frost

Life is full of itself,

simply and purely.

It doesn’t grant extra time for our worries

and it doesn’t allow further moments to dry our tears.

It evolves,

it moves forward,

never forgetting the past,

embracing all of its successes

and hopefully learning from its mistakes.

Although happiness sometimes turns to regret,

and smiles turn into frowns,

life does goes on.

And somewhere,

beyond confusion and pain,

in each life lies a new road,

paved with promises,

traveled by souls who have understood

the sign on the shoulder that reads

“it goes on”.

~~

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