Port Stanley is a cute village on the shores of Lake Erie, about four kilometres south of where I live in Union. It was time to do a bit of strolling. Pretty cold with a fair wind sweeping across the lake. But the sun shone bright all day! Toque and mitts well placed, I set off from the downtown.
Gosh, it felt good to move the legs. I’ve done so little of that since Jody died. I wanted to walk the long cement pier on the west side of Kettle Creek. The snow had drifted high, and footprints stumbled unevenly along the way. The flecks of diamond were in every drift. I crunched along, trying to stay in the human holes, but I was jostled this way and that. And I loved it. Actually putting out some physical effort. Yes. Where oh where had my body gone? Well, I know the answer to that.
When I stopped in the sun to look across the harbour, all was silent. Even the wind was quiet. Coming towards me on the path was a tiny human. I thought I saw a dog beside, but a minute of walking towards each other proved that to be a mirage. This was the only person I had seen so far … and I had an apparently strange thought. “Make a contribution to his life, Bruce.” When we reached each other, we both stopped and smiled. And talked for five minutes – about the sketchy footing, the sun on our faces, the beauty of Port Stanley, and his home, Port Dover. Just ordinary chat, but I knew that the contribution was made, in both directions.
When I got a clear view of the lake, I saw that the ice was all tumbled up, especially at the horizon. Four little specks of humanity were way out there, frolicking on the white sculptures. Now the wind was blasting hard. Although I had thoughts of an heroic shoreline amble, my face turned itself onto a street that parallels the beach, where buildings would protect me from the breeze. Ahh. Heat those bones, Mr. Sun!
I walked by GT’s on the Beach, a roadhouse with a large patio facing the water. Jody and I had sat on that patio many times over the years, watching the seagulls, watching the volleyball players, watching each other. I was stopped by my sorrow. A tree overhung the table where we often sat. And Jody spoke. “Yes, Bruce, I am this tree too, and I want you to sit under it again come the summer, hopefully with friends. I’ll be there too, husband.” I’m sure you will, my dear wife. I’ll do as you ask.
At the end of the street was a dipsy doodle path that wound between tiny cottages before emerging onto another road, one with grand old homes. And on I went. After climbing an asphalt hill and turning right, I came upon a back alley that Jody and I had often enjoyed. Some backyards faced me, and some front ones, as the alley led me on within the wonders of silence. A wooded hill to my right showed me patterns of sun and shadow among the trees, where Jody welcomed me over and over again.
Eventually I emerged from my reverie into the moving cars of downtown. Cold it was, which suggested the need for hot chocolate. So I sat in a café as my hostess melted chocolate and added whipped cream and cinnamon. What a worthy conclusion to an afternoon out in the world.
Silence, crunchy snow, wind in my face, sun in my soul. I liked them all.