An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?
Summer was just about over, a summer plagued with drought conditions here in this part of Ontario, Canada, with crops being devastated and shallow well drying up. For us at the Grand River Conservation Authority it was equally serious. Fire bans angered the campers, even though it was as much for their protection as anything else. The cottagers who lease their lots from us around two reservoirs were more than a little edgy as the “lakes” receded from the shore line to a record distance as the water was depleted and not replenished by nature. Boat launching from the cottage lots was out of the question and in front of each property was now a border of what could only be described as mud flats. After the drought we had started into what may be described as the rainy season and with its arrival the severe heat of the summer was vacating our lands. It was a heat that was reported to have been in the low forties centigrade, if you calculate the high humidity into the equation. I tend to hate the high temperatures, being born in the North, in a place formerly known as Fort William. The rest of my family are “Southerners” and can’t understand my love of the Canadian winter, I don’t mind being the odd duck of the flock, after all they’re Southerners and you just have to tolerate them; an attitude that led to many, to say the least, awkward situations while I was growing up. I really like autumn and refuse to refer to it as “fall” because it is autumn and not the direction of travel when one’s feet are suddenly horizontal with one’s head when footing is lost on ice. I like the slap in the face from Mother Nature as she strikes your cheek with that fine frozen drizzle propelled by high winds just before winter sets in. Suddenly I am starting to see my family’s point of view, perhaps I am the “odd” duck of the flock, could they have been right all of these year; no that would not be logical...they’re Southerners.
The story is not about my eccentricities, though that is exactly what an eccentric would say, it’s about collecting. That last statement probably surprised absolutely no one.
A neighbouring Conservation Authority to the one I am so fortunate to work for holds a bi-annual outdoor antiques show. This is the Christie’s Antiques Show, named after the Christie Conservation Authority, situated near Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. There are hundreds of dealers and is attended by thousands and thousands of dedicated antiques hunters, collectors as well as a good smattering of curious and interesting characters. As always the plan was to arrive before the show opens to assure a parking spot close to the means of egress as after walking for miles searching for collectables one doesn’t need to walk an additional mile to their vehicle. The older I get the closer I want to be to that most welcome exit at the day’s end. It was up at 05:00 and get ready for the day’s outing. Remember that this was the rainy season and the forecast had not bode well for a dry excursion, but we had our rain gear out and were ready for whatever Ma Nature could throw at us. My dear wife, Linda, was born and raised in Perth Ontario which is an hour’s drive south of Ottawa, our nation’s capital the home of our Parliament, or as I like to think of it, “the gas works”. The location where Linda lived would make her a Northern girl; however, the number of years spent here in the South has had an adverse effect on her. Her tolerance to cold wet weather is about as low as it is toward my sense of humor, though she is a good sport about the latter. I have heard her referred to as “Brian’s long suffering wife”; though what “they” are getting at eludes me as her health is just fine, thank you very much.
So there we were on our way to the antiques show, in the dark, in the rain with windshield wipers on full speed and visibility far from ideal. After an hour ‘s drive in relative quiet, the possibility of this being an ominous silence never seemed to dawn on me, though dawn itself was upon us. As we sat there in our van, awaiting the gates of the show to open, the storm seemed to increase in ferocity. Gusts of wind laden with rain hit the side of the van at a near forty-five degrees rocking the vehicle with a violence that only the most vengeful elements can muster. Lightning and thunder were all around and I discovered right there and then that breaking into a chorus of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody (you know, “Thunder and Lightning, very, very frightening”) was not to be received in the vein of humour in which it was intended. My dear wife did say the anymore Queen renditions from me and it would result in “Another one bites the dust!” Oh, and I suppose that Queen reference was funny? Suddenly, with the storm raging all around, there was an uneasy silence that only men know when they tell their wives that they can’t attend the ballet because the Stanley Cup playoffs are being played on that same night. Women, go figure. In fairness to the ladies I suppose one could say, “Men, go figure”, though that, of course, would not be my first choice.
Not being one to learn from my mistakes, no matter how recent they may be (it’s a guy thing), I broke the silence with the suggestion that one should see this as an adventure. I offered the image of Gregory Peck’s portrayal of Capt. Ahab standing on the deck of the Pequod as he sailed her around the horn. I often like to think of myself as one of Gregory Peck’s heroic characters, though I am beginning to regret sharing that, oh well, I did say I have a tendency toward the eccentric. Linda offered that this was more like being on the bridge of the Edmund Fitzgerald. For those not familiar with Great Lakes lore this was a ship that sunk in a gale on 10 November 1975 in Lake Superior with all hands, no bodies were ever recovered. Check it out on the internet it is an interesting story, one made legend by Gordon Lightfoot in his song of the sinking of this ship.
By this time the winds had subsided though the rain continued in a torrential downpour and finally after what seemed an eternity the show’s gates were open. We approached the gate, Linda safely sheltered under her umbrella and me in my rain coat and good luck Tilley hat in anticipation of what treasures we would uncover. After passing through the gate we walked over an earthen walkway that cut through a pond, so water was on either side as well as teaming down from the heavens. I could not help but feel a little like Peck’s Capt. Mallory in the 1961 movie “The Guns of Navarone” as they approached their goal climbing up the shoreline cliffs in the gale force storm. Strange, as you would think that I would liken our pending adventure to some Indiana Jones movie but I have always liked the classics and let’s be honest Indie will never be a classic, not as far as acting is concerned.
Finally we entered the hallowed grounds of antiques heaven.
....to be continued.
An Adventure? Are you out of your mind?