The Exquisite Hour. Even before reading Lemoine’s script, had you asked me when this is, what this is, I would have invariably replied: Dusk. Summer. Long-shadow-time. And it just so happens that as I write this, I am in that place where I first experienced the enchantment of this – Lemoine has indeed selected the perfect word – exquisite hour.
I am at my family’s cottage on Georgian Bay, at the southernmost point of Lake Huron. About a two-hour drive north of Toronto, but seemingly light years away from the city. I type away on my laptop, all the while knowing that I’ll have to drive into town to email this to Jessie at Relephant headquarters in Vancouver.
And by “town” I mean Penetanguishene, the blip-on-the-map where I grew up, the end-of-the-road bilingual community where my parents still live, where my mother’s eight sisters are peppered about, all within amicable hollering distance. The First Nations name aptly translates to “land of the white rolling sands” and I feel exceedingly luck to have this place to return to.
There’s a chance that I could get a wireless signal, if I walk out to the end of the dock, and stand on tip-toe (extending my five-foot-one-and-a-half to five-foot-three-ish). But I’m grateful that I get to come here, where it’s easier to not be connected 24/7. It still feels like pre-1995. So I remember my childhood here… Running down the path to the beach, quick-as-can-be because of the prickly pine needles underfoot, slyly hidden in the sand – sort of the kid version of walking on hot coals. Pristine, cool freshwater, so clear you can see the patterns in the sand underfoot, gracefully carved by the currents. Sticking our little hands into Mom-proferred bags of potato chips; sandy fingers giving the chips an extra grainy crunch. And in the late afternoon, vast expanses of green grass, a deliciously cool carpet after the heat of the still-simmering sand. A few dozen more freckles, skin shiny and warm, smelling of sunlight and coconut-y SPF.
The adults with their cocktails; the women with sweating glasses of Chardonnay (so sophisticated, I thought!) gossiping, chatting, smiles wide. The men with beers and highballs, ribbing each other about golf scores, shooting the shit about water levels and boat trips. Blue Jays game on the radio… The announcer’s voice, to this day, casts a spell over me: I feel instantly calmer, safe, all’s well… and all that.
It’s not day, it’s not night. But it’s the best of both.
What’s your exquisite hour?
Relephant Artistic Associate and Director of The Exquisite Hour