Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

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BRUCE COUNTY BACKROADS

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Side roads. Concession roads. Hardtop and hard-pack gravel. Graded and ungraded. Rutted and rain-eroded. They can get your car dust covered or mud caked depending on weather and which road you’re on. They are Bruce County two-lanes leading you everywhere and not necessarily where you want to go.

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We often drive these Bruce County back-roads. She is looking for birds. I’m looking for pictures. I don’t care much about shooting birds. My meager 250 mm lens fails in comparison to some of the big glass that other shooters carry. Most times, birds are just too far way to capture anything decent.

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I’m OK with that. I’m more interested in what was…the abandoned barns and farmhouses, the fences, the fallen in roofs and stone foundations…the what’s-left-on-the-land from times gone away.

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The structures that faced years of winds and weather, that struggled to stay upright and remain proud of what they provided to their hard-working owners…structures of shelter and warmth, places, markers that families once called home.

Some markers are different.

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This pockmarked weathered stone, its carved inscription unreadable, sits solitarily, a sentinel overlooking a vista of fields un-ploughed or planted. It seems out of place. More often than not you’ll see clusters of resurrected tombstones sitting on the side of secondary roads salvaged from some long forgotten cemetery to make room for more farmable fields. This one stands alone.

Cloud shadows silently drift across the fields it watches over. Why is it there? Is there meaning in its placement? Or is it just a photo-op for a wandering amateur with a camera? I doubt if I will ever know. But I take the shot anyway and move on.

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There is a great deal more to discover and capture on these roads.

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So we drive on.

ROAD TRIP TO ROCHESTER

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Old friends are well worth spending time with.

And so it was that on a foggy Saturday morning I set out to join my buddies for a Drum Corps weekend in Rochester. I’ve known these guys since grade three. Went through Cubs, Scouts and the Optimist Drum & Bugle Corps together. Stayed in touch over the years through our lasting friendship and mutual obsession with the Drum Corps world.

We thrived on the camaraderie and the competition. It taught us lessons that got up through life – to where we are today. We grew up together and we never grew apart. I misspent my youth on countless buses, on many long road trips all over Canada and the U.S. with these guys. Now, as old geezers, we were going to do it one more time.

N. and I left Southampton early. The roads were empty…the farm fields harvested and golden…the leaves turning and the fog in the valleys sitting thick and heavy, denying the sun access to the earth.

As soon as we left Bruce County the sun broke through and it wasn’t long before we were ensnarled in Toronto traffic. Nonetheless the day was spectacular. It was going to be a great weekend with the boys.

The traffic though, never let up. From Toronto to the Niagara Falls border we crawled – stop and go – bumper to bumper. I had already been three hours in a car. This added another three. My knees were starting to question the wisdom of this trip.

Once we hit New York State we made the outskirts of Rochester in good time. Years ago we would head straight for the practice field, even before checking in. This time we bypassed our hotel and headed straight for the outlet mall. When, I wondered, did we turn into bargain hunters?

By the time we checked in I had been on the road for 11 hours. There was no joy in that. But, there was joy in my first American beer with the boys in years.

That night, we headed into the historic center of Rochester for a Corps dinner at the TripHammer Inn. Old friends! Old memories! So much grey hair! Everyone had put on weight. Our young, lithe, hard bodies were gone. We were old farts. But, we were together and the good times flooded back.

After dinner, we took in a late rehearsal with the Optimist Alumni Corps and quietly congratulated ourselves on having the good sense not to be playing members any more.

Over the next two days we got lost on the Interstate – a lot. Ate some great Bar-B-Que at Dinosaurs Rib House with the Harleys lined up outside. We looked but didn’t touch because full patch Hell’s Angels were drinking at the bar. A hard-boiled egg blew up in my face (don’t ask), and I got stung in the stands (again, don’t ask). It was a great weekend.

We marveled at the skill and musicianship of the competing Corps…so much better than we were in our day. We talked about our past history together, our lives, our accomplishments and unspoken failures, our aches, pains, medications, life, politics, religion and other trivialities…but mostly about Drum Corps. After all, that’s why we were there. The immersion in our past left us refreshed. We were young again.

Driving back to Toronto was fast and uneventful. N. had her weekend with the girls. I had mine with the boys. We met up and headed out. The road to Southampton was clear and quick. Leaving home always makes the return trip that much better. Still, it was good to get away. It gives me a greater appreciation of what I’m coming back to.

 

 

 

 

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

September 7, 2008 at 5:06 PM