Wednesday, July 4, 2018

The Optimistic Ontarian

Derek's Fireworks over the Lake

Alisha's fiancé Derek loves fireworks, and he has become quite an accomplished pyrotechnist. His firework shows have become very popular among his family, and he always puts on a spectacular Canada Day show at the family cottage outside Thunder Bay. Since we were visiting, we received an invite to the event this year. In fact although we had intended to head home sooner, we were told in no uncertain terms that we HAD to stay for the Canada Day show.

The weather has been pretty good for the entire trip, and although there has been some rainy days, they really haven't spoiled our vacation. However, the weather forecast for the Canada Day weekend did not look promising, with rain predicted for most of the weekend. Determined to have a good fireworks show, Derek decided he would set them off on Saturday if it was a good day rather then waiting for Sunday and hoping for a break in the forecast rain.

Arriving at the cottage with a car full of fireworks and a table built especially to safely mount the various rockets, cherry bombs and massive firework cakes on a floating dock out in the lake, Derek was informed that the show was scheduled for Sunday, because guests had been invited and could not come on Saturday. When he expressed concern about the rain, his father assured Derek that the forecast called for rain all afternoon, but clearing by 5:00 pm. Now coming from Nova Scotia where even Cindy Day rarely gets the forecast that accurate, I had to share Derek's concern, but his dad was confident.

Sunday dawned with cloud and dark skies on the horizon, and by noon it was raining; “See, just like the forecast said.” was Derek's dad, David's optimistic response.
The Fireworks Table

By 2:00 pm, it was no longer raining, it was pouring, but David checked his phone and reassured us that it was still supposed to clear by 6:00 pm.

At 4:00 pm, the driveway was washing away, the downspouts could not longer handle the deluge of rain, and you needed both a raincoat and an umbrella to go outside. “Don't worry”, David assured us, “The weather forecast is saying it will clear by 7:00 pm.”

It was still raining at 6:00 pm, but not so hard, and perhaps the skies to the west might be a bit brighter. “Yup, we're good, clearing is expected by 8:00 pm” David claimed when everyone pointed out the continuing rain.

Well, David was right. By 8:00 pm, the rain had stopped, and Derek hurried outside to quickly get everything organized and set up. By 9:00 pm, there was actually some blue skies, and they towed the now almost prepared floating dock out into the lake for Derek to complete final preparations.

At precisely 10:00 pm, under a beautiful darkening blue sky, Derek set off an amazing 20 minute firework show. Everyone agreed that it was his best show ever, and David's optimism proved as accurate as the weather forecast.
Ready to go - rain stopped

1000 Kilometers of Inuksuit

An inuksuk is a simple statue made from stone, placed in a spot for others to see. Originally they were used a a navigation aid in the north to indicate a route through the barren northern landscape. Sometimes they were simply erected to indicate that “I have been here”. Some were simply a stack of stones placed in a way that they would not naturally appear so that others might notice them. Increasingly however a unique form of the Inukshuk in a roughly human form has grown popular. These are two piles of stones (legs) with a larger stone on top (Arms) and another on top (a head).

As I drove highway 11/17 north along Lake Superior on our way to Lac Seul to visit Alisha, I started noticing Inuksuit placed on rocks along the roadway. Although as you may recall, the drive up to Thunder Bay was through rain and fog, I still started noticing increasing numbers of these Inuksuit. Knowing I was coming back the same route, I decided to look for them on the way home and take some photographs and write about them. I noticed that they continued right through to Sioux Lookout and beyond on the route to Alisha's. I started watching for them, and once you start looking, it was amazing how many of these little statues there were. On some sections of highway, there was one on every rock along the way. Apparently a journalist for a newspaper in the region counted 98 on just the TransCanada 69 from Sudbury to Toronto, so there must be hundreds on the entire route we followed.

They were always placed on rocks beside the highway, and usually were high up. Some would have taken some rock climbing skill just to get where they were placed. I then started noticing that some were knocked down and now were just piles of stones. Obviously some people electing not to climb to the top of the highest rocks, had built their Inuksuk on low rocks. Easier to build, but these were devastated in the winter by the passing snowplows throwing the tons of northern Ontario snow off the highways.

On the way back down to Toronto I again looked for the many Inuksuits, and again noticed them for over 1000 kilometres. On this trip I could actually see them clearly, and stopped to take a picture for you. That route is not exactly the most exciting, with mostly trees and rocks . . . . so the little statues are a welcome addition to the landscape.