I awakened on my first day of summer holidays to picture perfect weather. Grabbing my coffee and my journal, I headed out to the swing to consider the possibilities that could lie ahead this summer. I anticipated writing a ‘to do’ list but quickly realized that doing wasn’t going to capture my intentions. The more I wrote, the more I realized that I think I want to explore some ideas around community this summer. Somewhere in there is an opportunity to learn more about people’s stories and how they contribute to our sense of belonging in a community.
Yesterday was my Canada Day as I ventured off to the beach at Lake Huron to beat the heat. What better way to usher in the summer holidays than to enjoy sand and surf? Apparently many others had the exact same idea! But here’s who shared my longing to get close to water and appreciate the freshwater paradise we have so much of in Canada. First and second generation immigrants. Port Blake was cliff to shoreline families representing many different cultures: hijabs and leggings, West African prints on dresses and bags, Sikhs in saris and turbans, Korean teens in tents.
I plopped myself down right in the middle of the action. Babies to elders, families exploded across the shore. Up on the cliff, older folks languished in hammocks strung between trees, tabletop hibachis fed kids in droves, circles of teens traded barbs and soccer balls. Up and down the beach, water winged toddlers carried buckets of water back and forth, women’s hemlines dragged through the water’s edge, and dads took turns populating the water with all manner of colourful inflatables.
There’s a sign where the public space of the beach ends that warns no trespassing. True to form, no one ventured past the sign. Beyond, it was empty, save for a few umbrellas dotting the strip all the way to Grand Bend. Rather barren really. And usually that would be attractive to me. But then I’d miss the energy that comes with being a part of something. Like this community. And while I was really an observer on my own yesterday, I certainly wasn’t alone. I soaked up the sun and the displays of familial connections in a range of languages.
My idea of Canada Day is a public space that accommodates the intimacy and diversity of family celebrations in a larger community that appreciates the spectacular Canadian outdoors. I’m thankful I found that yesterday.