It doesn’t make sense to head to Toronto at 5:15 in the afternoon to see a bonfire for two hours and then drive home. It’s two-and-a-half hours each way, counting the ferry trip to Toronto Island. But since when is making sense the way to go?
I’ve been to three brunch and concert afternoons at the island church this winter. Marvelous food, sweet sounds and a bunch of friendly people. Someone thought I should come on down for the humungous bonfire on March 21 and who am I to disagree? There are about 800 residents on the island. These fine locals save up their Christmas trees for the big evening in March. I stepped off the ferry and followed the train of people and trees to the beach. And there, past the bushes, was the glow.
As I got closer, embers rose forty feet above me. Eventually, maybe 200 treegoers circled the flames. The wind swirled, blowing the sparks this way and that. Lake Ontario lapped onshore a few metres away. And beyond the bursts of white and orange, all was dark. Folks sipped their favourite beverage and chatted away. Away from the fire, it was darn cold. A young woman did wonders with a shining, multicoloured hoop. A well-dressed band beat their drums for the twentieth year or more. Gosh, it was fun.
I got back to Scarlet at 11:15, savouring the festivities. I almost felt like an island resident. A smooth two hours on Highway 401 and I’d be cozy in my bed. The traffic was light and I was zipping along at 110 kph. All was well … until Guelph. Sideways snow jolted me and soon the car ahead was dimming, despite its emergency flashers. A few kilometres later I could barely see it and 110 was now 20. Plus I was gaining on the fellow.
As the margins of my world disappeared in whiteness, I imagined getting schmucked by a semi-trailer. I was scared. If that car wasn’t out front, I’d have no idea where to go. “Okay, Bruce, get off this road. You need to stay alive.” I could just make out the sign for an off-ramp and I edged to the right. Here it is, I think. I could feel the slope of the road bending but were it not for those yellow diamond reflecting signs, I’d have launched into No Man’s Land. Thank you, dear Ministry of Transportation. I’d never noticed those suckers before but I’ll watch for them from now on.
I spent an hour at a Tim Horton’s coffee shop, sipping a brew and watching my heartbeat descend. What exactly was I doing here? Well, having fun … and there’s lots more of that to come.