Beyond the Blue Horizon

Winter sunset on Dupont

If you can fall in love with a city in the dead of a Canadian winter this might be the night. The city is Toronto and the evening sky is a peach. It looks like a sailor’s sky..a sky that promises fair wind under glorious sunshine the next morning. What the hell is this sailor’s sky doing here in January?

People are wandering about this evening arm in arm. They’ve got dogs on leashes. They’re pacing themselves with a minimum of jogging gear.

No one is quickening their stride tonight because there is no bite in the air. There’s no urgency on the surface of your skin.  It is the oddest of winters and we will take it.

Confessions here. For most of my life I have imagined that the best summers I enjoyed as a kid somehow still survive skyward beyond a cloud bank. If I were the Rocketeer I could launch myself into that most brilliant blue and find those days playing out in some kind of fracture of time. Makes no sense, but you’d be surprised how often I draw comfort from that little fantasy.

Those would be the summers of endless days at the beach. We were slathered in baby oil and  lay out like strips of bacon. Our parents were always there, stretched out on blankets, smoking and sipping something that wasn’t quite lemonade from the lemonade thermos. When they opened a picnic hamper no one had any issues with a peanut butter sandwich. We all waited an hour after eating to go back into the water lest we be seized by cramps. It was exactly an hour by the sweep second hand on your father’s watch. We used to count it down. It was one of the great parental myths of childhood.

There’d be Motown on the transistor radio booming up from Detroit across the lake. The Mamas and the Papas and the Beach Boys would harmonize in the shimmering heat. The Doors and Jefferson Airplane were there too, hinting at something a little strange..something that might go sideways at any moment. Kennedy was already gone but Manson…well, no one had ever heard of Manson in those days.

In the evening, the sand would feel wonderfully cool on the soles of your feet and you’d bolt down the path to find someone building a bonfire  by the water’s edge And that’s where you’d catch a glimpse of the new girl from a couple of cottages down and your heart would skip a little. That would happen every summer to girls and boys alike.

If you were lucky, you’d all pile into the family station wagon and hit the drive-in movie. Not a seat belt to be seen. Kids were invariably decked out in animal print pj’s in the back. If you were really fortunate there’d be a naughty moment in the movie that your parents didn’t know about and you’d catch a glimpse of something (not much) through the windshield that was clearly intended for adult eyes.I saw the side of one of Angie Dickinson’s breasts once  I got t a little thrill out of that too.

There’d be fireflies and fist-sized croaking toads and June bugs smashing into the screen door like big crunchy kamikazes. The nights were absolutely alive. And so were you.

You understand that I had to write this. I had to write about sunburns and Noxema, burnt marshmallows on a stick,  schools of minnows in the milky warm shallows and  the first fleeting traces of puppy love. I had to write this, decades gone by, on an unseasonably warm January night in the city of Toronto for no other reason than the sky is a peach….and the old times might still live beyond a distant cloud bank.


4 Responses to “Beyond the Blue Horizon”

  1. Dave, such a great read. I too have similar memories of childhood summers at the beach in Grand Bend and Longpoint…a few decades between us, but the same childhood delights.

    • Mike Taggart Says:

      It is amazing how you scripted a carbon copy of my youth,if I closed my eyes it would unreel a spool of memories,the only difference being the separation of the Atlantic ocean between the stages.

  2. Thanks for the memories Dave. Location matters not, Bolton, Wasaga, Grand Bend, Honey Harbour…..warm memories to keep us toasty on this dreary winter day.

  3. beautifully written………..ahhhhhhhh………..the ‘good ‘ol days’

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