The Fall of 2023 was better than the last! Last year was filled with personal and family trauma and though I am forever changed, I am grateful for the year's worth of emotional and spiritual growth.
Just after Labour Day weekend, I drove up to Bracebridge, ON to attend a Women's weekend at a "Kids' Camp". I made a few stops along the way to visit some long-time good friends. So, by the time I arrived, some good times were already in the mix.
I knew what to expect, a bit, because years ago I attended a similar weekend in Southern Ontario. That's how I discovered this one up North. The previous organization was no longer around (one of the closure outcomes from the pandemic), and after some time spent searching online, and eliminating the high-end option for $2K, I found the perfect retreat (description and budget were in alignment with what I was looking for).
The drive up North was really great. I avoided any kind of fast highway and instead, took the scenic route of twists and turns through an array of colourful forests, relishing in seeing many cute cottages, homes and small general stores.
When I checked in, I received a map of the grounds and was pleased with the location of my cabin. It was closest to the main lodge (mess hall). My cabin mates hadn't arrived yet, so I went and had dinner by myself. The food was amazing! It was specially catered for the weekend (which pleased the camp counselors, since the rest of the year consists of kid-friendly camp "grub").
Early he next morning, my cabin mates were all (four) still fast asleep, as they partied in the lodge until long after I went to sleep. So, I quietly left and went for a bike ride, to go exploring. There were lots of hills, but it was very quiet and I enjoyed the alone time. When I got back, it was still before breakfast was being served, so I grabbed a coffee and went to sit on the wooden benches that overlooked the small lake.
This was a true moment of magic. The sun was rising from just behind the pines on the other side of the lake. And, the mist was eerily riding the water; not quite touching, but hovering. Everything was quiet or that's how I remember it. Peaceful and serene. Really, I get shivers just thinking about it again!
I had never been to camp as a kid, so it was an adventure for me to meet people and participate in the different activities: yoga on the beach, tapping workshop, climbing a really high swinging ladder, beach volleyball (oouchy, it had been 30 years since I dove like that), water colour painting, tye-dye shirt making, campfire singing, and bingo. And of course, I spoiled myself and got a nice relaxing massage.
My drive home was nice too, but had a different vibe. It was raining a bit, so more solemn than the excitement and anticipation on the way up. I was tired but really proud of myself for pushing my comfort levels a bit (socially, physically and learning some new skills at camp).
A couple of months later, the same friend I had visited on my way North, invited me to a potluck (I brought cranberry-spicy meatballs). Now this time, we were the ones who partied a bit much. The next morning, the sun was beaming and she nor her dog were up for a walk.
Since I had a few hours to spare before meeting with my other friend in that vicinity, I decided to go exploring. I knew I wanted to be outside, but hadn't decided where. As I was driving, I suddenly came across the Nature Reserve in Hockley Valley.
So, I quickly turned into the parking lot. I went to look at the map (those things never make sense to me), and ended up asking a couple where the trailhead was. Good thing too, because it was actually down the road a bit, which I likely wouldn't have found on my own. Anyway, I was relieved to see that it was a loop. Perfect, because then I wouldn't get lost.
Lots of hills and valleys and so beautiful. I took my time and just breathed in the aromatic Fall leaves, listened to the quiet yet noisey nature sounds, and felt the sunshine on my face. At one point I came across a really old truck, of which I took a photo (my friend loves to paint old vehicles in weird places).
Then I looked at the time and realized that I didn't make note of how many kilometers this trail was, regardless of it being a loop. And being from out of town, wasn't sure how far I was from Orangeville, where I had plans to meet another friend to watch her son play basketball.
So, I started to run (this is also a new thing for me as I am a long-distance walker, but never a runner). Not knowing how far in the loop I was, I decided to let my friend know that I might be late because I was literally "Stuck in the middle of the forest".
I continued to run and 5 minutes later, got to the end. This made me laugh. And I laughed some more when I got back to my car because Orangeville was actually only 9 minutes away... I actually ended up being early.
What topped off the weekend was that my friend's son's basketball team won the Championship that day. I was feeling very proud, by proxy!
All in all, these two excursions were outside of my regular set of activities. They were adventures where I appreciated my solitude and found inner and outer peace. I am grateful.
About the Creator
Worked in Labour Law & Human Rights Publishing, Financial Communications, Non-Profit, and Marketing as a Project Manager. Currently, I am an EA at a Speech & Hearing Centre. I enjoy knitting, quilting, reading, hiking, biking and yoga.