A Prose View

Sixty years is but a blip in Ontario’s natural history, but a significant portion of mine. In the long haul, the Great Lakes have risen and fallen, its shorelines have grown and eroded and its waters have broiled and becalmed in endless cycles.

In the short term, since Pinery Provincial Park opened in 1959, its population has also been ebbing and waning, though ever more strongly as its popularity rose.

My family was among the first to take root in its camping loop ecosystem. My parents got married and settled in Sarnia in 1955, just down the road from Pinery’s dunes. My father, being a teacher with roots in the island of Terschelling, was drawn to this summer idyll, so we camped in the Pinery regularly.

In those first years, the campground was small, the rangers were personable, and the fellowship was wide among other Dutch families, all reveling in new starts in their ‘home and (now) native land.’

In the Pinery

By the time of this picture, in 1963, there were already four of us children, with three still to come. When this album’s pictures were taken in 2012, some fifty years later, we were accompanied by children of our own.

I hope that their children too will experience the magic of open air living and daily sojourns sitting on the edge of our Huron sea, with hot sands underfoot and frolicsome water ahead, stretching away to eternity.

Or click any thumbnail below.

In The Pinery

In the Pinery – coming up the rise
the lake comes into view, full blue,
and there sit the de Jongs,
still, after fifty years.
But whom should I meet first,
eying me warily with a look of dim remembrance?
The beach goes on and on
playing host to whimsical castles in the sand
constructed carefully,
and all with local materials
to bake in the sun,
and catch the waves.
The water ebbs,
and erodes
the sand from under my feet.
Clouds billow in the blue sky
in counterpoint with the trees.
Going back over the dunes, the waves grow quiet,
the heat rises
and burns hot on the feet,
with only scant refuge to be found
in the shade of spindly grass.
The sand gives way but often pricks.
The dunes climb high
and swoop low
and over the final crest keep their cool
under a carolinian canopy.
Henry was here
to view the trees
and see the sea
and urge the next generation to feel
the rush of a slow summer
– in the Pinery.

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