Sunday, September 02, 2007
I was so refreshed after my day of sloth last week that I decide to head north and camp with my son and his friends for three days at Killbear Provincial Park. I am so glad I did.
I had forgotten just how beautiful Ontario becomes around Parry Sound. In fact, for the last eight or nine years, I went to the Gaspe every summer and had myself convinced that it was by far the most beautiful spot I'd had the privilege of spending lots of time in. And indeed it is lovely -- once you get past Rimouski, it's stunning, very Maine-like in its terrain and a totally Maritime climate that is lovely for someone used to the humid, sticky summers of southern Ontario.
But I honestly believe that the open, crystal-clear waters of Georgian Bay, with the beautiful exposed pink Canadian shield everywhere and jutting cliffs and the haunting curved silhouettes of the white pines and Douglas firs, even has the Gaspe beat. It's really breathtaking and dramatic terrain; no wonder the Group of Seven was so inspired by it. I spent a lot of time as a child in that part of the world, at camp for five years and also at various cottages my family would rent. But I had somehow forgotten just how heart-stoppingly beautiful it is there, and as I sat on the granite overlooking the open mass of Georgian Bay right before jumping off a 30-foot cliff with my son and his friends, I almost got a bit verklempt at the loveliness. It is really God's country there; you feel small and insignificant in the majestic face of it all. As an atheist, I can honestly say it is the only place in the world that has made me rethink my non-belief.
And yes, if I may toot my own horn, I was the only parent of 10 present to jump off the famous Suicide Ledge despite my pleas for them to join me. All I can say is that the worst moment is not when you're in mid-air, but right when you've made the decision to go for it and you know if you change your mind and try to put the brakes on, you're dead because you will slip and tumble onto all the rocky ridges below it. I screamed the whole way down and felt like Robert Redford in that famous Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid scene. And I can't say it was easy watching my son do it. I shrieked like a banshee as he flew through the air and splashed into the emerald-green water what seemed like a good three seconds later. Count three seconds out ... slowly ... that is a long time to watch your beloved boy go hurtling through mid-air. And one older boy was swan-diving!!