Case Note No. 14; Sunday August 29, 2021
Hello again, it's me, Ms. AAngyl, the blogging unicorn. I am so excited that I can hardly sleep, let alone dictate my blog! Margaret and I are on a big trip, to meet up with friends and relatives across Canada and in the United States. Some might even say that we are on a pilgrimage to connect our pasts with our futures. Please feel free to join us on our journey in the coming weeks.
I was born in 2002 and raised in Ocala, living my life in Florida until I was fifteen. That's the state where I first met Margaret, and in 2017 I decided to become her live-in therapy horse, and move to her home in Canada, on the island of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. Despite my Florida roots, many generations of my mother's family (my Arabian side) lived in California. You may recall that when I first started writing this blog, I was still in my horse form, living in my house on Shore Road. In Case No. Note 4, I mentioned my longing to know my Arabian grandfather. I was regularly reminded of him because my patient kept a large Breyer model of his likeness, still in its original packaging, in her half of my house. It was on the desk where she cut up my fresh fruit and veggie snacks, so I often looked in that direction. Well, guess what? The big news is that we are soon going to California for a visit. Finally we can see where my grandfather lived, and meet some of my living relatives. I can't wait!
It's a long way to California (and to Tipperary, for that matter LOL). But first we have other stops to make along the way. Margaret wanted me, and Big Silver II, to meet her many friends and family members living in Ontario. (FYI, when traveling, I take the form in the material world of a small white unicorn with a rainbow mane and tail. And as a reminder of me, Margaret often wears a rainbow braid hanging from her hat. That's just a heads-up, in case you happen to spot us.)
In order to partake of this sojourn, we had to drive from Cape Breton, Nova Scotia to southwestern Ontario, a distance of 1,636 km. We did this last week, at a leisurely pace over three days, staying with friends, and arriving at our destination late Friday afternoon. Which reminds me. I have to tell you that there have been several changes of vehicular characters since we co-authored Meant To Be, An Awakening Journey, published in May of 2020. The mechanical angel who brought us from Cape Breton to Lambton County, Ontario is named Big Silver II. Big Silver I, the 2012 Chevy Silverado 1500 extended cab V8 truck that Margaret bought used in June of 2019, is now resting in pieces. In December of 2020, he simultaneously crossed the Rainbow Bridge and the Canso Causeway, the famous bridge leading onto Cape Breton Island. This occurred after an untimely after-dark encounter with an unseen foreign object in the road, causing him to swerve, blow a tire and scrape along the guardrail, taking out all of the safety systems on his right side. Thank you for your service, Big Silver I.
Nine months into the pandemic, used trucks of any description were as scarce as hens' teeth in Nova Scotia. And so, there was no alternative but to replace Big Silver with a new truck. At that time, suitably-equipped trucks (most of which are made in the USA), were also in very short supply. Nevertheless, enter into our life Big Silver II, a 2021 Chevy Silverado 1500 High Country LOL, an updated and upgraded version of Big Silver I, with a diesel engine. This burly fellow appeared at MacGillivray GMC in Antigonish, sporting the same paint colour as Big Silver I (a Chevy Silverado colour that is simply called "Silver," although colour-conscious Margaret would be more likely to describe it as "Metallic Medium Charcoal Gray." The Silver paint colour just happened to be the only available choice in a High Country Silverado with a Duramax diesel engine. Apparently this particular mechanical angel was meant to be our next family truck, which conveniently did not require a significant change of name for the new character.
In order to add Big Silver II to the vehicular family, Margaret and Johannes each had to bid a fond farewell to a beloved vehicle. Exit both Katy the Kona (her 2019 Hyundai Kona in Acid Yellow, a shade of lime green), and his 1990 black convertible Mercedes GD-wagon, a rare bird with a diesel engine. For sure, it was sad to see them go. But trusty Big Silver II incorporates all of the best features of the three dearly-departed vehicles, and a whole lot more. So life rolls on. And as Muriel used to say, there's nothing wrong with learning how to share.
Readers of our book, Meant To Be, will know that Margaret grew up in the village of Watford, Ontario and spent her childhood summers at the family cottage in Port Franks. These two villages in Lambton County are very dear to her heart. Her brother Jim and his wife Margaret McLaren (sometimes referred to as "Margaret V" among family members, to avoid confusion with my Margaret) now own and maintain the cottage, and kindly host and/or facilitate many gatherings of family and friends there. So here we are, sharing time with them and enjoying the best of everything the cottage and the surrounding area has to offer, in the glorious hot days of late August.
Of course, of course, one of the unforgettable highlights of summer life at the cottage is the daily trip to the Port Franks Beach. The cottage is conveniently situated on the bank of a creek whose mouth empties into Lake Huron, one of Canada's Great Lakes. The beach is a short walk from the cottage, along a former roadway that is now a picturesque tree-canopied walking path that follows the creek. This creek is known to most as Mud Creek. However, others in the past, with a questionable, or perhaps romantic or revisionist approach to history, preferred to call it the "Old Ausable River." Interestingly, a current search of the area on the Maps app on Margaret's iPhone7 reveals an enticing new name for this body of water (drum roll)... Golden Creek! Margaret loves this name, but brother Jim has an opposite reaction, and swears by his modern Android phone that the notion that Mud Creek has been renamed is an error or aberration, if not an outright abomination. Seen above is a family of swans enjoying some quality time today on Mud/Golden Creek. At the moment, it might be more aptly named Green Creek, thanks to the large bloom of Duckweed, a tiny floating plant that holds the distinction of being one of the smallest flowering plants in existence. Well done, Duckweed! Time will tell by what name this lake-meeting body of water will come to be known in future days.
The beach can get rather crowded with visitors on the weekends, so seasoned locals know that it is best to continue to walk far down from the mouth, to where the crowds thin out and the lake water is pristine. Instead of walking, some cottage owners, including friendly neighbours, arrive by power boat and anchor offshore. Lazy mornings and afternoons are spent swimming, paddle boarding and bobbing in the warm lake waters, sometimes seated in innovative floating chairs made of pool noodles and durable straps.
Another huge attraction of late summer life at the cottage is the joy of al fresco meals on the patio, designed around the abundant fresh produce grown in the area, and available at farm and orchard stands that have been operating for decades. For Margaret, the highlight is delicious barbecued meals featuring beefsteak tomatoes, fresh local corn on the cob, and local peaches. I know I would love to taste the corn and peaches.
It has been over five years since Margaret visited the village of Watford, Ontario, population of about 1,600 souls. Brother Jim was keen to get to acquainted with Big Silver II, so he offered to drive, and off we went. Watford is a 20-minute drive south from the cottage, along country roads bordered with fields of cash crops such as hay, soybeans, corn, and even cabbages. Much to her surprise and delight, along the way through this remote rural countryside, Margaret spotted not one but two new equestrian facilities. One of them is called All About Horses. How exciting for a horse lover living in Lambton County! As soon as she has some free time, she will pay them a visit to learn more about what they offer.
When we arrived in Watford, Big Silver II and I took in the surroundings, while Margaret mailed a letter at the local post office, and took some pictures of the landmarks, including McLaren Pharmacy, which was established by her great grandfather William Peter McLaren in 1869. It is in a new location on the former Main Street, now known as Nauvoo Road.
Of course, of course Big Silver I was a vehicular character in Meant To Be, so he knew all about the inventor named Maxwell, and his famous horseless carriage known as the Maxmobile. Naturally, Big Silver II was curious about it, and wanted his picture taken in view of the former fire hall, where a Maxmobile is on display. He also wanted a shot of the Armouries, with its muraled walls depicting famous moments in Watford's history.
We unicorns can pull a lot of strings for our loved ones. Our tour of Watford included a drive around the back streets, including Ontario Street, where we passed the former McLaren house. Imagine Margaret's astonishment to see a huge blue flag featuring a white unicorn head, flying proudly from the flag standard on the porch of the brick house her grandfather built in 1915! She was so excited by it that she just had to knock on the door and ask the owners if she could photograph the flag. After introductions, the new owners kindly invited all of us to come in. While Jim talked to the man of the house about all of the building improvements he had made to the house, Margaret chatted with his wife, who had filled the dining room plate rail and tops of cabinets with the largest collection of unicorn memorabilia she had ever seen! She and her brother learned that the new owners had moved into the house in 2017, the year I invited my patient into my life. Just a coincidence LOL!