We drove out into the boonies of Southwestern Ontario today, while the clouds hung like cadavers in the sky, to go to Winter Wheat, a half-quainte half-Blair-Witch little farm-type place in Elgin county a few kilometers from Port Stanley. It's apparently the home of an actual hermit, who died or something, and was replaced by a family who knew what side their bread is buttered on, and decided to make some bordering-on-insane folk art out of chainsawed logs and barbed wire.
It's actually pretty awesome, to tell you the truth: all weathered wood and goats. Plus, they have a little cottage with cookies in it, which immediately made me like it a lot. I'm a whore for cookies. They were oatmeal chocolate chip. So I wandered the pathways and took picture of creepy voodoo angels and the little doggie grave and my mom, and read all the guest book entries. I love reading guest book entries. It's kind of far off the beaten path, so there wasn't a whole lot in the way of variety; guest books in hostels have entries in other languages for you puzzle over. This one had entries from the Red Hat Club of Windsor, Ontario.
Also a lot of children who expressed two main opinions: one, cookies are awesome (or, as one young lad spelled it, "osom") and two, you should have hot chocolate. I was gratified to see, a couple of pages later, that someone wrote, "Thanks for the cookies and hot chocolate", and wondered what else people would find to demand. I also wondered if I wrote, "You should give me a million dollars," if that would work.
After hanging around Winter Wheat, we drove up the road to Port Stanley, seeking the sight of the sea, although it's not really the sea, but rather a Great Lake. And it's hard to see it without being fortified by traditional beach food: greasy French fries doused in vinegar and ketchup. In Port Stanley, you have them at Mackie's. We found an incredibly enthusiastic girl with tattoos, a guitar, and a brilliant smile singing beautiful music in a restaurant on the way back to the car and stopped to listen for a bit. We wandered along the beach, observing piles of dead fish, and reveling in actual sunlight, and then drove to Shaw's and got some ice cream.
Shaw's' sign was down, which actually led me to a moment of brief nostalgic speculation; namely, there are lots of little tucked-away places with the world's best ice cream or cheesecake or chips or whatever, and unless you know they're there, you miss them. How many places without signs will I see on my travels? How will I know they're there? Nothing makes you feel more like a resident than knowing the secret place to get your leather jacket cleaned or have a milkshake. And I love feeling like I live in every place I go; I get more of a thrill out of finding the supermarket than visiting a cathedral. Cathedrals are forever, but banal details of everyday life are fleeting, and those are what I want to grab on to. As Peter Beagle said, via one of his characters in Lords of Air, "I want to be born and grow up and die in every place that I visit."
The sun shone on us through the car windows and, with a tummy full of coconut cream and birthday cake and waffle cone, and feeling mildly nauseated, I wended my way through the familiar highways, "home."