It was September. My co-worker Scott invited my boss (Wendy) and I to a cottage owned by his friend in Tobermory, Ontario, which is about three hours northwest of Toronto on Lake Huron. Tobermory is by far one of my most favorite places in the world solely on beauty and pristine. I had been camping there many years before and it hadn’t changed it’s charm one bit. The people, the houses, even the asphalt feels and looks different and definitely not like the US. This was back in 2000 when my life was simpler and pre-terror stricken. The people we met were at ease and comfortable. You could get smoked salmon on the honor system. Just put your money in the box, open the cooler and take out your piece wrapped in newsprint.
This story is important because there are three events this weekend that could be considered forks in the road of life.
Number one was dinner at Grovesnors. It’s a converted railroad station house from the earlier part of the 20th Century now a French-y type restaurant. The entré consisted of steak on a bed of fresh greens topped with grapes, a grape sauce covering all of it and a hunk of fresh chevre off on the side. I had never had such an explosion of food in my mouth: sweet and cold with tart and creamy, then the solid meat and crispy, crunchy lettuce. It was all too much and forever altered my perception of what food can be. This silly plate gave me license to explore non-traditional pairings sometimes for the better like scrambled pancakes with jam mixed in or my creamy scrambled eggs made with fresh butter and whipping cream. Sometimes for the worse like my ramen noodle concoction with heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.
In the middle of the night, on the way back from this same dinner, Scott stopped in the middle of the road just up the drive from the cottage. The moon was so bright it appears as though a light bulb illuminated the countryside completely and evenly. In the trunk of the borrowed, black Honda Accord was a 12″ reflecting telescope that he mounted atop a sturdy tripod. We were on the prowl for gas giants. At first it was difficult to find, but using his electronic star compass it was located. I peeked through the monocle and saw the spot, the rings… the whole planet before my eyes! It was faded a strange light orange, but that was definitely Saturn. The moon was too bright, Scott said, which is why the color was faded. When I moved away from the telescope I glanced up at the sky. Millions of stars are in my vista like a Planetarium so precise and crystal clear you’d think you were in a man-made contraption.
When you want to put yourself in perspective versus the world walk to the middle of a lake when the tide is out. My third experience, the day after the meal and Saturn, made me feel small and insignificant compared to nature, the trees and water on the horizon. My friends were mere specks far away from me as I let them walk off so I could take a photo.