Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Love in the Great White North

I Do Countdown: 46 Days
"I think Dave looks like a member of
ZZ Top in our wedding photo," says Deb.

Hi Cathy:

Our story isn't very exciting.  I mean, it isn't full of intrigue, sordid sex, or treachery.  Actually, it's pretty boring. Truth be known, we are boring, uneventful people happy to be left alone living at the end of a dead end road in our cabin in the woods. And my story isn't full of creative description either because I simply don't write that way.  Just the facts ma'am and in the same manner as I speak. 

Here's the photo of our big day, June 1st, 1974.  Oh, and note the bird shit on the tree. 


Our story, albeit not a very exciting one, began in Muskoka.  I was only 12 years old at the time when I went with the neighbourhood cottage kids, all older than myself, to a corn roast and dance at The New Ark Marina.  The marina was a ramshackled, sprawling, mom and pop business on the west side of Lake Muskoka and the owners hosted family events throughout the summer season.

Back then I looked much older than my 12 years which, at the time, was a blessing but now that the years have worn on, is a curse.  Armed with the notion that I could pass for at least 14, I was hoping to meet up with a 16-year-old boy, who was considered 'dreamy' by all the girls.  That night, all the starry-eyed girls jockeyed for a position near him around the open firepit that was boiling the corn in an old wrought iron cauldron.  Then we followed him up a ramp to one of the boathouses that, during the winter months, housed our family boats keeping them safe from the winter storms.  But that night, it was a dancehall.

Meanwhile, David, a friend of Mr. Dreamy, had his eye set on meeting one of the starry-eyed girls.  Her father was a well known publisher, a multi-millionaire, and she, aside from being born with a silver spoon in her mouth, was devastatingly beautiful.  She was also older than 12.

Well, as it turned out Mr. Dreamy and Miss Wealthy ended up together that night, holding hands, dancing and eating corn in a manner that seemed like they were having hot buttered sex.   While I cannot recall the exact moment when we met, nor how it happened, I ended up sitting with David at the end of one of the many docks at the marina. We called out the shooting stars as we saw them fly across the night sky listening to music echoing across the still, black water of Lake Muskoka.  A favourite song being played was by Chad and Jeremy called
The Summer Song.  And we chatted  about how much we hated corn because it got stuck in our teeth.

The following weekend, there was a dance in Gravenhurst at the Odd Fellow Temple.  Odd Balls Hall as we fondly called it.  I went with a girl whose cottage was next door to ours.   When we arrived, I spotted David, that nice guy I met the previous weekend.  We said hello and then stayed together the whole evening dancing and later holding hands as we walked down Sharpe Street looking for a place to buy a pop.

During that walk, I remember pointing out the name of the pub in the Gilmour Hotel.  "Look, the Anchor Room," I said.

He replied "Oh, I didn't know we were down that far."

What incredible wit, I thought.  (Remember I was 12 at the time and my sense of what was funny hadn't matured yet.  Apparently, neither had David's and he was 16!)

Whenever there was a dance in any of the small towns surrounding the lakes over the course of that summer and following summers, I would run in to David and spend the evening with him.  Once, during the winter when I was back in Toronto, I bumped in  to him at the Don Mills Shopping Centre.  He was coming out of Black's camera store armed with an envelope of photos he had just taken.  Too absorbed in his photos, he didn't spend much time chatting, but was courteous, just the same. Maybe it was because I was with my mom and dad at the time or that we weren't in Muskoka that the chance encounter didn't call for a lengthy conversation.

Then one July, several summers later,  I was totally smitten with a fellow I was working with at a summer job.  I invited him along with some other co-workers up to my family cottage for a weekend.  David happened to pay a visit during that same weekend  arriving in his father's boat.  He took us all skiing and spent the afternoon with us, sunning on the dock and listening to music.  When it was time to leave, I walked him to his boat, waved goodbye as he pulled away from the dock and turned to the fellow whom I thought I was madly in love with and said "I'm going to end up with him."  The words hung in the air and I wanted to take them back.  What a stupid thing to say!  Clearly my sense of timing had not matured (although my sense of what was funny had.)

The following winter, I noticed an article in the
Toronto Telegram.  It was called Susan Ford's Boyfriends and it featured David.  He was now 23 and billed as Toronto's most eligble bachelor.  So I called him at his home, congratulated him for getting his 15 minutes of fame and caught up on what we had been doing since the summer.  I told him that I had been given tickets to see the rock group Chicago for my birthday and asked him to join me for the concert. 

So we went on our first official date and later, in a coffee shop after the concert, we both said in unison, "We are going to end up together, aren't we?"

When you find your soulmate, you know it right off.  And I suppose we both knew it right off that night when we sat on the dock at the New Ark Marina.

We got engaged that year and were married the following summer. 

Our wedding was small and held mostly for the social morals of the time.  We didn't have much of a hand in planning the event as my mother was keen on organizing the whole affair. My bridal gown was simple and cost $70.00.  David wore a tuxedo and his shirt, I remember, had frills on the front as was the style back then. 
I wanted to walk down the aisle to Ben E. Kings song, Stand By Me.  But, other than David, no one understood why I wanted that song and felt it was not appropriate.  To this day, I have no idea what  piece of music was played.  The music for our first dance was selected by the D.J. He was an older gentleman and reminded me of my grandfather. He wore gray trousers like my grandfather.  Why do men wear gray trousers? He chose Behind Closed Doors by Charlie Rich.  He was insistent that every wedding he worked at, this was the song.  We acquiesced and dutifully danced our first dance to a piece of music that to this day whenever we hear it, we cringe at how dreadful it is.

Since our first official date we've been together every day, except of course, when David was traveling during his career.  We planned that when he retired, we would live at our cottage in Muskoka.   And here we are some 46 years later, sitting on our dock late at night calling out the shooting stars as they pass overhead, listening to The Summer Song, now an ancient golden oldie, echoing across the still, black water of Lake Muskoka and chatting about insignificant things as they pop inside our heads. Life doesn't get any better than this.

Deb Adams is the author of My Great White North, one of my favourite blogs.
She has an easy, rambling style with a very dry wit and the more I read her, the more I enjoy her. More often than not, I have a real laugh-out-loud moment. Like tonight, for example, I read about her grand scheme to swim across the lake – and her husband's ("Dad") warning to grease up with Vaseline to thwart lamprey eels. Maybe that's not funny to you but it's hilarious to me because there are no lamprey eels in the Muskokas.
Oops. I just committed a fatal faux pas (you can tell I haven't lived here long). It's Muskoka, not The Muskokas, although sometimes snooty visitors like to try and make us sound like The Hamptons or The Adirondacks.
No matter what you call it, Muskoka is a special place. Imagine a land full of lakes – some folks say you can't walk a mile without bumping into a lake, that's how many there are. Imagine a place covered in towering spruce, colour-laden sugar maples and wind-carved pine. Few people live here year-round. Those who do have a strong pioneer tradition, relying on their wits, the land and, ahem, tourists, to pay the bills. Tourism is one of Muskoka's biggest industries. We depend on it, but we curse busy summer days when there isn't a parking spot at the supermarket. 
Muskoka is a place for all seasons but, for people like Deb and Dave, it is the place where summer memories were indelibly etched. Deb's about my age and when we were young Muskoka (and nearby Haliburton, where I spent my summers) was a golden playground. We swam and waterskied all day in the sunshine, we played crib on rainy days; we made fudge, we read comics; we made friends, we found boyfriends. 
Yes, it was a place for the privileged, or the very lucky. My father was a railroad engineer. My mom worked part-time as a school bus driver. We were by no means rich, but my parents worked hard to pay for the cottage on 12 Mile Lake, and to give us the sweetest, most treasured moments of our whole lives. Don't think I don't know it, or appreciate it.
(Thanks, Mom.)
I'm rambling a bit. I just wanted to give you a glimpse of how special Muskoka is. When I read Deb's wedding story I was struck by how "Muskoka" her story is. A budding summer romance. A chance meeting in the city. And a happy ending, sitting on the dock, listening to this –

By the way, still looking for your wedding/love story. Send your stuff to me here.
I'd also really like to start collecting wedding tips: bad, good, funny, true, I need the advice! 
Next up: the grand damsel of Newfoundland blogging - Laurita Miller.


  1. What a delightful story! I can see why Cathy adores you, Deb. Nice to meet you. :)

  2. Deb, you may protest that your story isn't filled with creative description, but it truly was wonderful and captivating. I could just see the picture - that slice of life - of you as a young girl who met her soul mate one beautiful and starry evening.

  3. Not full of sex and betrayal, but a wonderful story. Better without all those twists and turns I think. Love stories always are. This put a smile on my face for the day. Thanks for sharing it, Deb.

  4. Deb, you brought out the special and magical as only a young teen can experience. What a wonderful story!

  5. Sitting on the dock and calling out shooting stars pretty much made it destiny. I think those are the kinds of magic moments that forge lasting bonds. My wife and I had a similar moment concerning fireflies. I still have a thing for those little guys.

  6. What a great and romantic story! Thank you for sharing. Peace...

  7. Ab circle pro on sale gives considerably better savings for the
    buyers with rapid shipping.

    Here is my web page - fitnessglobe.org


How's it going, eh? It's SO good to hear from you. Tell me every darn thing...