For many summers after that, my home was somewhere on Georgian Bay. Sometimes it was in a tent, sometimes in a boat with no land in sight, and for awhile it was in a houseboat tied to random docks.
My parents both grew up on Georgian Bay. They knew the water and the islands like most people know the shortcut to their favourite corner store. To say that my brother and I were lucky that they shared this with us, is an understatement. But I didn't always get that.
When I was around 15, my parents packed up our house in the suburbs and bought a house on the waterfront. It should have been a dream come true for all of us, but that's not exactly how it turned out. My parents were both forced to change career paths and ended up working jobs that required them to put in time on the weekends and didn't allow for as much vacationing in the summer. I was uprooted from the comfort of the 'burbs - where my best friend lived down the street - to a house 20 minutes out of town with any hope of a driver's license still years away.
I didn't spend much time at my parents house for the next three years - I mostly stayed with friends in town and used my bedroom for an occasional crash. It seems pretty ridiculous considering the view from my bedroom looks like this:
After moving out of my parents house, I didn't go back very often. During the winter it was a difficult drive in the snow and during the summer it was a difficult drive because of all the cottage country traffic (everyone from Toronto heading north). Also - I was busy building my life somewhere else.
Despite the love affair I have with the city I live in, there is no Georgian Bay. In fact, aside from a small man-made lake, there really isn't any water. There are no beaches to visit in the middle of the night for a quick dip with friends. There is no chance of an impromptu boat ride to Henry's for a fish dinner. There is no Beausoleil Island or Ellery's Point. These are all things I yearn for, but even more so now that I have Kale.
In the last few years, Kris, Kale and I have started to visit my parents more in the summer to take advantage of the waterfront. My parents live in the kind of community where everyone eats dinner together. Where it's not uncommon to find your neighbours dog or children in your kitchen. Where friends and family keep their boats tied to the same dock. Where "mi case es su casa" isn't a saying or a lifestyle - it's just the way it is. The norm.
Appreciating all of this has taken me a long time, but now I do. It's something that Kale has helped me with. And now I know. I get it. And now I want to give Georgian Bay to Kale, like my parents gave it to me.