Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Archive for February 2009

Doing Nothing

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Whenever I come into contact with old friends from Toronto, they invariably ask the same question:

“What do you do up there now that you’re retired?”

This is sometimes followed by another more pointed query:

“Don’t you get bored?”

Sometimes my answer to the first question is: Nothing! And to the second I always say: No!

Every day is Saturday and every week is a long weekend. I wish for little and want for nothing as far as time goes. I have come to appreciate the phrase my father used to say to me when I spent summers working for him as a bricklayer’s apprentice. Whenever he threw down his trowel at the end of the day he would look at his handiwork and wish for:

“…la dolcezza di non fare niente…”

Literally translated he longed for retirement and “…the sweetness of doing nothing.”

I am living his wish right now. But if he were alive he’d be up here. And, I’d be labourer to his stonemason as we built one of his famous outdoor fireplaces that doubles as a Bar-B-Que and pizza oven. It would be a satisfying way of doing nothing. But that’s another story.

I am at the far end of the continuum now. Things happen at my pace. My decisions are influenced only by those closest to me. Although I’d like a radio station that plays jazz all day…and a place that bakes bagels like Gryfe’s does, and a bakery that knows how to make a true croissant. But these are just little things. In the grand tapestry of life they are but loose threads.

All of which brings to mind the lines Leonard Woolf (Virginia’s husband) once wrote:

“There are other assets of old age. The storms and stresses of life, the ambitions and competitions, are over. The futile and unnecessary and false responsibilities have fallen from one’s shoulders and one’s conscience.”

He was 85 when he came to this conclusion. I reached it a long time before that.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 17, 2009 at 7:31 PM

Spring Thaw

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img_5368A few weeks back I was snowshoeing in MacGregor Point Provincial Park with a friend from Toronto. He was up for the weekend and convinced me to try ‘snow walking’ for the first time.

It was a magnificent day, cold, clear and crisp. The sky was an unbelievable blue. The ice was on the lake out to the horizon. The snow was soft and deep, I didn’t have the proper poles, but we swapped back and forth, and I managed. We left the marked trails and wandered freely along the lake edge in areas you wouldn’t dare walk without the ‘bear paws.” All in all, it was a liberating experience.

As we trudged along what used to be the beach we saw three swans swimming in a small not-yet-frozen pool close to the shore. We couldn’t help but wonder what they thought they were doing there. 

Since then, we have had a thaw if you want to call it that. In short, we’ve lost most of our snow. Grass is visible everywhere , fields are flooding, the river lost its ice and the roads are finally bare. Yesterday, N and I went back to MacGregor – without snowshoes. We wanted to see what the thaw had done.

The Skating Oval was closed. Small ice crusted streams ran down to the lake. Most of the snow in the bush was gone, what remained on the trails was hard packed and made walking difficult. The trails were, for the most part, bare to snow packed blocked with winter fallen trees waiting for the chainsaw. It was a mid-February thaw and we wondered if Spring was close enough to become a reality.

Along the shoreline, the beach reappeared. There were footprints in the sand where we had left snowshoe prints.

The swans were gone though.


Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 16, 2009 at 8:28 PM

Southampton Sign

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In my January 21 blog – Gateway – Signs of the Times I lamented the state of sign design in Saugeen Shores.  What concerned me most was the fact that the current design project initiated by Bruce Tourism for the two test communities, Port Elgin and Southampton, did not understand the long-standing image of either town.

I was concerned, mostly, for Southampton because that’s where I live. I, and many other residents, believe that the existing sign says it all. Simply take what is there and redesign it for the times and the flexibility of today’s media. In that blog I also suggested that,” the lighthouse defines the town.”

There were others, with more influence than a lowly blogger such as I, who felt the same. The challenge fell into the capable hands of Mike Myatt, Director of Community Services for Saugeen Shores, and Brad Smith who has lived in the area for the past two years.  Their collaboration has produced the perfect result.

The Oldest Port on the Bruce Coast

The Oldest Port on the Bruce Coast

Their proposed Southampton logo emulates the old and existing sign. It is a fresh new outlook…and it conveys the character of Southampton perfectly.

The Chantry Island concept with lighthouse and keeper’s house silhouetted against the sky with birds flying overhead catches the essence of Southampton’s main attraction.  All it needs now is the addition of “The Oldest Port on the Bruce Coast” line and their work is done. 


The Saugeen Times ( reports that the design will now move forward to Town Council and then to the signage designers, Corbin Design, to be incorporated into the signage strategy.

If they want my opinion I’d say “approved!” Now, let’s move forward with it. Summer is just around the corner.