Metropolitan Homesick Blues

Southampton Stories & Other Stuff

Posts Tagged ‘Saugeen Shores


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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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


So we drive on.


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Eight years ago, when the thought of retirement began to creep into the routine of our frenetic city life, the idea of finding quietude and simplicity in a place close to nature became a worthy objective. We knew of Southampton. Friends of ours retired in this simple summer town spreading up from the shore of Lake Huron at the mouth of the Saugeen River. The Bruce Peninsula, with all its natural allure and waiting-for-us-to- discover trails, was full with the promise of a much simpler life. Saugeen Shores would be the ideal choice for us. Oh, we were aware of the size of the nearby Bruce Nuclear Plant. Yes, we saw the Wind Turbines at the Information Centre. But we never gave either a second thought. We found our Shangri La, so to speak. The quiet contentment we were looking for would be all around us.

Not so today.

There is a fault line running under the length of Saugeen Shores. Two tectonic plates, one the proliferation of Wind Turbines (especially the C.A.W. Turbine), the other the proposed Deep Geological Repositories (DGR) for Nuclear Waste, shift and grate against each other. This once quiet community has become a community of protestors. Concerned citizens have formed committees against both. There are coalitions, review panels, mountains of research on both sides, accusations against local politicos, a claimed lack of transparency from council and nuclear authorities and the specter of a hosting agreement that suggests that surrounding municipalities are receiving upwards of $500,000 annually to support DGR plans. It is said that these municipalities will be splitting a 34 million dollar windfall by 2034 for their willingness to back the DGR. Conflict of interest, closed door meetings, a lack of transparency and questions of resident support all add to the tremors now shaking the foundations of innocence that once bolstered this town.

It saddens us to see this happen. This kind of controversy isn’t what we expected when we retired here.

Even so, our life hasn’t changed. There is still a slow, simple pace to our daily comings and goings.

With the potential of nuclear waste beneath us and wind turbine turbulence surrounding us, perhaps the magnitude of the controversy will one day change things. Perhaps not.

Right now it matters little. The reality of the DGR, if it happens, is decades away. Past the time when we will even care.

Upcoming generations will be affected. They should get involved now. From what I’ve seen they are not.

Meantime, we will live our lives as we intended. For all of the back-and-forth, the finger-pointing, the denials, the he-said-they-said and the hand-wringing – the sun still shines – most days.

Who Am I To Complain?

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Anyone familiar with my Blog might remember a post titled Southampton North End Sewer Project.

It was more of a lament; a rant really, because the town of Saugeen Shores ripped up an easement that my neigbours and I spend years (5 for me) cutting and caring for. We nursed it from weeds to grass at our expense. In the name of progress (and in spite of the anger of some North Shore residents) they destroyed it all, taking out mature trees and any wildflowers that stood in the way of their sewer pipes.

The open grassy area that was our bocce court, our playground for the grandchildren and the perfect place for Max my daughter’s obsessed, pure bred with papers, smooth coat” Border Collie, to endlessly chase tennis balls…

…went from this…

…to this…over the summer…

After this winter’s melt we were left with a perfect Mud Flat. And after this rain-filled spring it is still soggy. The contractors made numerous attempts at grading the area. It still isn’t right. The excavated clay now sits on the surface. But they’re satisfied that the job is done So they laid down seed. But, it’s a long way from what it was to where it should be.

The only ones happy with the situation is a pair of robins. 

They’ve built a nest under the beam of our back deck.

Because the Mud Flats are taking forever to dry out, Mr. & Mrs. Robin are treated to a steady supply of fresh worms for their young. With a natural cafeteria so close they’re taking advantage of the situation. They are somewhat over-protective parents though. They come at you when you intrude on their space. Like the Town, they think it is their backyard. Nonetheless, the Robins are happy. At least someone is.

The Mud Flats will soon dry up with the heat of summer. The easement with be green again with industrial grass and weeds. It remains to be seen if I want to spend another five years spending and nurturing it back to any semblance of a decent lawn.

What it looks like today - brown and patchy green. We will not complain. We will wait and see.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

June 14, 2011 at 1:30 PM


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Early the other morning I went to Macs to pick up my usual paper.  High on their pillar just below their big logo was a sign that caught my eye – Worms & Spawn 24 Hours – it said.

Now Macs has just recently decided to stay open 24/7. And I guessed, given that it is the favourite stop for local fishermen, that they were well in tune with their market and decided to stock bait somewhere inside the store as an added revenue souce. Perhaps in a cooler next to the coffee machine. Thats where most of the guys head when they pop in at 6:00 AM before they hit the water.

But as I stepped out of my car I discovered otherwise. There, just beside the door, was a new vending machine. The words – LIVE BAIT – closely followed by a smiling worm doffing his Top Hat beside the line – Guaranteed Fresh -immediately got my attention.

Now, I know that vending machines or ‘automatic retailing’ is capable of putting just about anything up for sale anyhere that’s convenient. These machines run the gamut from simple to surreal. You can get anything – french fries, ramen noodles, Buddist prayer beads, condoms, snacks, drinks, and anything in between. The Japanese lead the world in this area. They even have vending machines that will wash and blow-dry your dog. Google tells me that the very first recorded reference of a vending machine was in an Alexandrian Egyptian Temple. It accepted a coin and dispensed a small amount of holy water.

How far we’ve come.

Today we have dew worms living in a steel rectangle. And with the right coin it will dispense 8 of them…or 8 bags of spawn…or 1 Mr. Twister Jig Head plus 9 assorted heads. I stood looking at this thing and smiled. Only in a small town I thought.

And why not.

The boats are meandering at trolling speed up and down the Saugeen right now. Fishermen at Denys Dam are standing in their waders knee deep casting into the slower water. Cars are line up at Fisherman’s Park. Others fish from the shore on either side of the bridge. The big white trawlers are lined up in the harbour.

Spring is here. It is time.

What could be more right than a vending machine for live bait in our little town. And full credit goes to the folks at Macs for thinking of it!


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Headlines in the local paper read: BAG TAGS STAYING AT $1.50.

If anyone was following my post as above (February 27, 2010) – that’s good news. Saugeen Shores is not following the other nine nearby municipalities which charge $2.00 a bag. Council hung tough. And good for them. Although they are increasing the per-tonne rate at the landfill site. But that’s no big deal as far as I’m concerned.

Little guy wins!

But, not if you die!

It will now cost more for a plot at any of the three town cemeteries. A single plot goes from $375.00 up to $750.00. It now takes double what it use to, to dig a hole in Saugeen Shores soil.

From garbage to graves. What you lose on the apples you make on the oranges.

How about that.

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

March 16, 2010 at 10:14 PM


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It seems the people of our town are doing too good a job when it comes to reducing their garbage output. Even with $1.50 Bag Tag we conscientious citizens are embracing the need to reduce, we’re putting out less garbage and in so doing, we are creating another financial problem for Town Council.  Our honourable efforts have left the Saugeen Shores Waste Management budget with a $17,000. shortfall. That’s the price of success, I guess.  But our Council has found a way to put a negative spin on the positive results of a program they instituted.

Their solution is to increase the cost of a single Bag Tag by 50 cents. That is the common citizen’s reward for being efficient, for “better behaviour” as one councillor put it. Really. I was just hoping for a gold star not another price increase.

This councillor goes on to say that, “the increase in fee, making them pay for it, is making their behaviour better. If we increase the fees more, the behaviour will get better and better over time.” The essence of this syllogism escapes me.

Then another feels that, “if people are putting out less garbage perhaps there’s opportunities at certain times of the year, to deal with the collection in a different way.”

Yes, replies another, “especially in the off-time of year…I can see skipping a week for garbage pick-up and doing it bi-weekly for December, January and February.”

So, 50 cents more per bag and less pick-up. I can’t do the math, but I guess that will erase the shortfall.

The behaviour-altering power of Bag Tags could be turned against everyday tax-payers because of their good behaviour. For some reason I don’t get the logic. I don’t understand how Councillors think.

Usually when someone thanks me for doing a good job I get a good feeling inside.

Not this time.

(All quotes taken from article in Shoreline Beacon)

Written by metropolitanhomesickblues

February 27, 2010 at 10:19 PM


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What do you do with yourself when you have all the time in he world?

Ghandi had some good advice – Live as if you were to die tomorrow ~ Learn as if you were to live forever.

Learn! Discover! Re-educate yourself! An old U.S. advertising campaign for education use to sign off with these words ~ a mind is a terrible thing to waste; to which I would add ~ especially when you retire.

Of all the idiosyncrasies that come with old age, the closing of your mind, in my mind, is potentially the most debilitating. Retirement should not mean the retirement of your thirst for knowledge, your curiosity, or your quest for an understanding of what the world is all about. The meaningful learning opportunities that exist for the inquiring mind suddenly open up to the one who has the time and the desire to pursue them.

You would be surprised how easy it is to put yourself in a learning situation. In my part of the world I was happy to discover a small cottage industry of seminars and lectures conveniently available for a small fee. Most are offered by not-for-profit, volunteer managed organizations.

If you live in Grey/Bruce County check out The Bluewater Association for Lifelong Learning In Collingwood there is the Georgian Triangle Lifelong Learning Institute Saugeen Shores offers The Chantry Institute Lecture Series .They also feature recorded seminars with world renown scientists in The Perimeter Institute Public Lecture Series  And there is so much more if you look for it. All of these lectures are delivered by active and retired teachers, university professors, artist, writers, scientists, and highly placed working professionals who unselfishly share their time and knowledge with those who want to learn.

Winston Churchill sarcastically said ~  I am always ready to learn, although I do not always like to be taught. Well, the pressure to learn now becomes the pleasure of learning. There are no questions other than the ones you want to ask. There are no exams. You control the curriculum. Topics you never had time for, those subjects that were once a mystery, everything you ever wondered about, is spread out before you. The hardest thing you have to do is pick and choose.

Enlightenment, inspiration and information are out there for the mind open and curious enough to seek.