Rachelle and I recently went off on our first weekend away without our two year-old son, Jones.
It was a small affair, just a little trip to Prince Edward County. The weather was ridiculously beautiful, and like so many other people, we headed to Sandbank’s Provincial Park to meet some friends, friends who had carved time and space out of their lives to drive up from the city to see us. Often, it feels like friendships are circumstantial rather than permanent aspects of a life, little more than rushed appointments to reschedule, but when you’re by the water time moves differently. Nothing is hurried or obstructed, and friendships returns to the effortless state of grace from which they once emerged.
The day slipped away easily, and soon enough we found ourselves having dinner with about a dozen people at a nearby campsite. Sitting around the bonfire everybody was happy, happy like this was the only spot in the world they wanted to be, and these people, strangers and friends alike, were the only people they wanted to be with. Somebody with a strong and steady voice, the sort of voice that could lead the rest of, picked up a guitar and began to play Canadian classics.
Heart of Gold.
Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.
Songs known in the bones.
And after each one, faint applause rose up from the dark of unknown campsites as other people let us know that they were there, too, a part of our circle even if unseen. After an hour or two, through all all the coincidences, improbabilities, miracles and tragedies that led us to this point in time, Rachelle and I went down to the beach, lay on our backs and looked up at the sky.
I took my glasses off. The stars, they were already so far away, how were my glasses going to make them any more comprehensible? It amazes me that the stars, such a permanent and essential declaration of the beauty and mystery of our existence, are occluded from those of us who live in cities. How could we let that happen? How could we travel so far from what we are?
And within this simple night, the sound of water lapping at the shore. A train in the distance. Disembodied music, rising like ghosts from the lake. Somewhere laughter and wind, a girl splashing and giggling into the water and a boy following her, and all around us infinity stretching out in every direction.