A Drive Worth Taking
I have developed a habit these past few years of making what I call pilgrimage drives. During one a couple of weeks ago on my way to a retreat in Algonquin Park, there was definite sense of déjà vu as I stood on a boat ramp staring across Lake Cecebe to the rocks and trees that make up Gordon Island. Such soul-full journeys typically start with a vague memory from which a question inevitably arises … “I wonder“? The next thing I know, out comes a map. Ahhh, there it is! Now, how far and when can I go?
Returning to Source ...
This particular pilgrimage was to see where Rockwynn Lodge once stood. Rockwynn was a classic Canadian post-war resort about 60 km west of Algonquin Park near Burk’s Falls. My parents first began visiting there the first summer after they arrived in Canada from England in 1949.
Clearly Rockwynn was very special to them. I am delighted to now be the keeper of the many old black and white images they lovingly placed in
leather photo albums of first my brother, then my sister, and finally me, being introduced to the magic of Lake Cecebe. It seems we spent almost every summer there until the mid-1960’s when our family vacations shifted to camping rather than “resorting”. And yes, that’s a very wee me beside the Rockwynn boathouse in 1964!
I don’t know exactly what it was that drew me back to Lake Cecebe that particular June day or what I was expecting. My goal was simply to find the elusive island from my very pleasant and rather iconic Canadian childhood. And I did. I even found the original boat launch we would have embarked from which is where I stood a couple of weeks ago, for quite a long while, staring wistfully …
Just before I was about to turn and leave I saw a boat approaching. When its “older” skipper docked at the launch we started up a conversation. It turned out he was a member of one of the original families who settled Gordon Island and now owns the cottage right beside what was once Rockwynn. As a young boy he often kept company with the lodge’s guests, so chances are pretty good that he and my brother went fishing together, as one of the old photos above suggests.
After my new/old friend departed again I laid some wildflowers on the dock to say “thanks for the memories”. And, as if to confirm that the spirits of happy care-free times still live on at Rockwynn, Mother Nature, in the form of an extended family of Canada Geese, provided the most fitting image to my drive back in time … an assurance of the ever-present unfolding future.
That’s the original Rockwynn boat house in the background on Gordon Island that the goose family is swimming past and that I was photographed beside in 1964.
It seems my “I wonder” question that started the ball rolling got answered in all sorts of unexpected and delightful ways. There was nothing sad and nostalgic about this drive back in time ... which is sometimes the risk we take when daring to make such a sentimental pilgrimage. Rather, this journey was full of promise. So I literally bottled some of that holy water and brought it back with me, if only as a reminder that some things never change, especially when love has been the biggest part of it.
The drive had definitely been one well worth taking. I know now that the spirits at Rockwynn will always be there; they are in the land and I was assured of that. The rocks, trees and water still echo with the laughter, the tears, the hopes and dreams of the lives they had been a part of and continue to be a part of today, human and otherwise.
Every member of my family has this wonderful legacy to treasure of the unique slice of Canadiana that was Rockwynn. It’s encoded in our DNA. For the new family elders, my two siblings and I, that legacy continues to manifest in multiple ways, in our respective love of family, travel and nature. These are passions inherited from our British parents and mixed with the first-generation Canadian experiences they gave us. We now, in turn, are recreating similar experiences, remixed with an extra dash of our own individual uniqueness, for the next generation and their little ones.
Such legacies are sacred things. They are what sustain us. They are things that remain constant and can never be taken away. Pilgrimages such as the one I made this June reassure me that we can return to source to refill our well or when we find ourselves asking the really big questions … because isn’t that precisely when such personal source-places are needed the most?
When we ask the questions the answers and their echoes are there if we take the time to make the journey and listen for them along the way. And yes, I’m listening. Thanks Mum and Dad.
Ahhh … returning to source. So what does that source look like for you? If maybe it’s taking a time out to indulge your creativity and letting yourself play for a bit then perhaps a watercolour painting session or zendoodle workshop in the tranquil environment of my studio might just be the ticket. Be sure to check out what I have scheduled as we head into the long lazy days of summer. An afternoon of art-making could kickstart your own sentimental journey, open up your heart to a new experience or simply be a relaxing way to unwind.
May you enjoy the dance!
Artist, Instructor & Healing Arts Practitioner
Dancing Moon Designs
Illuminating the Creative Spirit through
the Symbol of the Circle ...