Wednesday, July 14, 2010

"That Thing I Remember" Number One

I think others have done something similar to this, but I've been thinking lately about a way to incorporate some of the memories I have floating around in my brain into my blog. My solution has been to create an entry called "That Thing I Remember." So, I'm going to try to make a habit of writing one of these at least once a week...hopefully on a Tuesday. That way, it should actually get done. :) So with no further adieu I give you "That Thing I Remember" Number One!
Today's memory is about where I grew up. It's not about the house, or the street or even the general area, but more about the city itself. Sault Ste Marie is a city of about 70 thousand or so, but it definitely has a small town feel because it is plunked in the middle of nowhere, with the nearest biggest city being a four hour drive away. There are many things that make this city attractive not only to Her residents, but to Passers Through as well. I think though, one of the city's biggest draws is Her water front. Sault Ste Marie Ontario is not only surrounded by hundreds of little inland lakes, but most of the Great Lakes, including Lake superior, touch Her borders. There is also the the Saint Mary's River flowing right along side the downtown area. The Saint Mary's River serves many purposes as it is a breeding ground for salmon at the end of the summer; a water way for recreational boaters and fishermen; the watery boundary drawing the border between Sault Ste Marie Ontario and Sault Ste Marie Michigan; and has one of the oldest operating locks system in Canada. There is a boardwalk with intersecting docks that skirts the banks of the river where people can walk, run, fish or just watch the boats come in. I feel that is these docks and boardwalk that gives Sault Ste Marie Her unique charm.
There are always commercial and non-commercial boats going through the Locks System or docking over night at the marina. When I was little my parents and I would walk along the docks and my Dad would excitedly describe the different boats we were passing and I would make him read the boats' names. I always marvelled at how boats were named and the stories that just had to be behind their names. One boat was named "Lacey" and I pretended that She was named for the captain's wife. Another was named "Lucky" and I decided that it was because they had gone through strong storms with Her and always made out it safely. My Dad would explain the colours each boat was painted and explain the size of them. Sometimes he would say "you could fit maybe two of houses in that one. No. Maybe three," or "that one is just small. They just use it on the river. It's a bow rider." I loved these trips down to the boardwalk full of exploring and ice cream. We even saw two baby beavers swimming in the river once. There is something about that place that I could never find replicated anywhere else.
I've stood on a peer in Santorini Greece listening to the sea slam against the rocks and it wasn't the same: don't get me wrong, it was amazing, but not the same. I've climbed up a bridge that over looked the ocean in Belgium where the wives and children of World War II waited for the war ships to return home. Again, amazing, but not the same. There's a sound in Sault Ste Marie that, until recently, I didn't notice was missing from everywhere else-the boats' horns. No matter what end of town you are at, you can always hear the gigantic ocean liners, freight ships or passenger ships blowing their horns. It's a sound that echoes through the city. I always knew it was a foggy night if I heard the horns blowing frequently. It's not an abrupt, harsh noise, but more of a distant echo that you don't even notice until you move away and realise something is missing. Even when I lived on the river in Cambridge there was never a single blast of a ship's horn.
The mind is a funny thing-the things it will grow accustomed to and then remember later in a completely different situation that it is missing something. I look forward to this summer wen I will hear the spuratic blasts and will always remember it even when life sends me elsewhere. :)

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