|Goderich (little red dot) on Lake Huron|
Goderich (pronounced either GOD-rich or GOD-er-ich) is a town in the Canadian province of Ontario and is the county seat of Huron County. The town was founded by William "Tiger" Dunlop in 1827. First laid out in 1828, the town is named after Frederick John Robinson, 1st Viscount Goderich, who was British prime minister at the time. The town was officially incorporated in 1850. --from dictionary.com's "reference" tab ...
Today (Friday), before lunch, we drove west about forty-six miles from Stratford to Goderich, which sits on the shore of Lake Huron. We have no matinee to see today, so we decided on a short road trip. We looked at the map, decided on Goderich, and off we went.
We used to do this quite often during our week in Stratford--head off to explore somewhere, pack a picnic lunch, eat with the mosquitoes (who were also dining)--but as I've gotten older, I've also gotten--what?--weirder? more paranoid? chicken? Here's the silliness behind it all: There are very few designated parking spaces for Mercer Hall (our hotel) in the parking lot behind the building, and I'm afraid (yes, afraid is the word) that if we drive somewhere, all those slots will be gone when we get back, and then ... and then ... and then? What? The universe implodes, time reverses, huge, fantastic creatures emerge from the the interstices among the stars--flesh-eating creatures that crave the meat of men between 68 and 69 years old. So now do you understand why I'm prefer to be so sedentary here? To park the car on Monday afternoon and not use it again till we go home on Sunday afternoon? Completely reasonable, right?
Anyway, off we drove on Highway 8, encountering the first major road construction about ten miles outside of town. But I was patient, sitting there, waiting, knowing that it didn't make much difference, anyhow, because there wasn't going to be a parking place when we got back. There were three such stops along Rt. 8--three places where traffic was one lane only--and best of all? On the way home, we were twice the first car not allowed to proceed. There we sat, waiting for the westbound traffic to reach us, be waved through. Then ... our turn.
But, soon, the construction went away, and we drove into the lovely Ontario countryside with well-kept farms (so many farmhouses are yellow or red brick), small towns that remind me of Oklahoma towns when I was a boy: wide main streets, no big-box stores, busy businesses occupying all the old buildings in the old downtowns. Oh, sure, there were a few franchises here and there there (Subway, Tim Horton's, a lone McDonald's), but lots of local ones, too, and I got all weepy and nostalgic and even a bit angry at how we've screwed up our own small towns. We did not see, for example, a Wal-Mart until ... Goderich. But it was outside town--on the eastern edge--far enough away that it did not seem to affect all that much the health of the downtown businesses. Of course, Goderich is a county seat--so there is business there of a political and legal nature, and those businesses require other business, and so on.
Oh, and there is virtually no sprawl in the small towns. You enter town; you leave town; the countryside commences almost immediately at the town limits. The way it used to be ...
Downtown Goderich is a large circle, the courthouse in the center, and we parked there and immediately found a perfect place to eat (in name as well as menu): J's Bistro (10 Courthouse Sq., if you're ever there). I had a chicken wrap (sans sauce, sans bacon); Joyce, a summer salad that took her, oh, approximately twice as long to eat as my wrap. But I was patient. Also, she ate my carrot soup, my side (which she'd ordered for me because she wanted it), so I sat there and played with my iPhone and visited the men's room a couple of times.
Hours later, outside, we found a little book shop--well, a book and yarn shop (it seems that books aren't sufficient these days--you need something else, too; I'm going to open a books and bacon shop)--but most of the stuff in it was, well, to be kind, not as interesting as the yarn. But the owner worked in the local public school, so we talked a bit about schools. When I told her I'd taught middle and high school English for forty-five years, she looked at me with a kind of soft pity that I found comforting.
Down to the beach we went for a walk. The sky was perfectly blue; the water, aquamarine. Some mothers, lying in the sun, had little children swarming around them like gnats. Goderich is in the process of moving near the beach its old train depot--a lovely brick building. Bless them for saving such things. We took a few pictures, then headed "home" ...
... a drive during which I noted my anxiety level (no parking place!) elevating every half-mile. By the time we got near Stratford, I was nearly certifiable. (To Joyce I said: "We are now two miles away from having no parking place!" Far, far calmer than I--about most anything--she smiled, indulgently, I would say.)
We entered town. Made our turn. The parking lot now in view. Car tops glistening in the sun. "There's not a single ****ing one!" I cried with the despair of the banished Romeo (we're seeing Romeo and Juliet tonight--just getting ready). We pulled into the lot.
"There's one," Joyce said calmly, pointing to the obvious.
I veered in; parked; exhaled for the first time in about twenty minutes.
I looked at Joyce, a daffy crooked smile affixed to my face. "We're here," I said.
She smiled again, said nothing, her silence eloquent. If I could translate that silence, it would say something like this: Dan, I love you--really love you. But ...
Some photos from Goderich ...