Do you have a favourite place to walk? I am writing this just after returning from what I think is my favourite locale for walking – Port Bruce, Ontario. I’m not sure why but I just feel like I have more energy when I’m there. The world feels both bigger AND smaller. My special place is a small harbour town, a village, really, on the shore of Lake Erie.
Of all the Great Lakes, Lake Erie is probably the least glamorous. It is shallow. It is notoriously choppy and has at times been desperately polluted. For swimmers like me, summer swimming can be unappealing – the waves stir up sediment and it’s muddy. Sometimes it’s treacherous. The lake is so shallow that waves develop in a very chaotic way and it can make swimming and boating unpredictable at best.
The lakes inspire strong feelings, and in my Southwest Ontario city, there is a big divide: folks seem to be either Lake Huron people or Lake Erie people. Depending on what side of that divide you fall on, you may totally dismiss any lake Erie locale. Folks sometimes call it a mud puddle.
That was me, until we discovered a small cabin about 150 metres from the shore in Port Bruce. We came in the “off” season for a week and there were huge lake storms. I walked up and down the beach and through the streets. I was kind of hooked on this place.
It’s nondescript in some ways. A few older cottages. Some newer ones and the odd giant mega cottage. There’s a sizeable trailer court for summer visitors, and there’s a marina on Catfish Creek, whose muddy water flows from corn fields to the north.
Port Bruce as a town lacks hubris, and that suits me fine. You hear a chain saw or a power tool most days and it reminds me of life in the logging town I grew up in.
Somehow, all of that makes me feel like walking. Really. It’s odd, even to me. But the lack of affect of this place makes me feel more comfortable and I just walk and walk. Up the beach. Down. Through the little streets. Even the steep (for Ontario!) hills don’t bug me.
The past week was pretty glorious – I worked, I walked, I swam. It got me wondering if anyone else has a special spot. I’d love to hear about it, and what makes it so great.