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Lake Superior helps put it all in perspective

Teaches us ‘nothing is permanent'

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We’re getting there. The door has opened. Sunshine is streaming into COVID’s deep closet. And what a perfect time of year to be reaching for the light.

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Summer along Lake Superior could well be just the healing ticket we need. We all have had long months of feeling anxious as we donned our masks before entering a store or kept a wide distance when passing folks on a walk. The return to the freedom of taking a long, deep breath of fresh air or hug a loved one without worrying, is a precious commodity.

With these new found wings and clearer vision, a trip to familiar places took on a crystal perspective. Last week Ward and I went for a drive to one of our special places, the five-kilometre long beach and campground at Agawa Bay in Lake Superior Provincial Park. We visit there a few times every year and this time it once more felt new again. The campground infrastructure remains the same. There are 147 sites, 38 are electrical and the rest are “rustic.”

The maximum stay is 23 nights and no more than six can stay at one spot, unless it is a family with grandparents and grandchildren. Where space allows, there can be three pieces of shelter (only one can be a trailer or mobile home) and there also is room for one dining shelter or tarp. Sounds homey to me. Prices are much more than they used to be a decade ago, but $59 for the top end, a AA electrical site, or $39 for a C grade tent site sounds reasonable. For once you’re on the beach, the world opens up. A couple of the usual LSSP attractions are not available this year so far. The fat tire wheelchair for use on the beach still is parked due to COVID restrictions. Also the nearby Awausee trail is closed.

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One of the cool things about LSPP is the variety of visitors. Without asking a kazillion questions of campers who just want to chill (some campers will gladly share their stories anyway), it is interesting to guess where folks are from and where they have been. One of the cars in the parking lot at the Visitors Centre had a license plate that read, Airport Mazda. Another car was covered in dust which we surmised had to be from the 14-kilometre Gargantua Road. ( Well worth the drive. Gargantua is amazing.)

After paying for the annual Park pass, which for $75 plus tax gives you two years permission to make day trips into any Ontario provincial park, Ward and I toured through the campground. We found a neat bench to sit at what was a perfect spot for a cheese sandwich, apple slices, cookies and a thermos of green tea. The view was altering, jostling our senses. The long broad Agawa beach faced a wide open expanse of Lake Superior that reminds one of how fortunate we are to be part of this universe. We inhaled the day.

Lake Superior has been a little different this year. For a couple of weeks the heat domes, that have been covering some places in our country like a campground of beany tents, have put the skids to seeing clear skies and feeling the rush of a soft summer breeze. On the day we were at the beach, the silence had enveloped everything, creating an atmosphere similar to the one you might expect to feel in a cathedral. A V formation of low grey clouds moved towards us like a slow ship in the sky. The calm lake showed thin riffles, a delicate cat’s paw touch of wind on a silken grey surface. No one whooped or hollered. The tranquility was catching. It was almost as if no one wanted to talk; everyone was so at peace with themselves.

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Off in the distance two kayakers pulled onto shore and farther out we watched four people slip by in a canoe. The image of that iconic craft, the familiar bowed shape, the familiar outline of people, reminded me of the pictograph image on the Agawa rocks to the north. I thought of when that image might have been created and time blurred.

The moment revealed a truth. Both canoes really are one and the same. In that knowledge resides a comforting timelessness. It relieves the sometimes overpowering urgency that 2021 life can demand. And leaves us with the gift that nothing is permanent. Everything grows and changes then comes round again.

Thanks Lake Superior. Even between the smoke and the grey you bounce back the light.

Ruth Fletcher is a Sault Star district correspondent based in Montreal River Harbour

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