People stroll around in the sunshine, wearing shorts and t-shirts, clustering at the Dairy Queen for an ice cream treat. Children carry buckets and pails to the beach, their flip flops clopping along the sidewalks. It could be any summer day in Sauble Beach. But it’s not summer, it’s actually fall.
Thanksgiving Day, precisely. My family has a trailer at Sauble Beach, and Thanksgiving is its last hurrah each year, when we go up to rake the leaves, cut back the garden, and clean scour the surfaces inside. But this year, with uniformly sunny skies and 25 degree weather, we were able to give this summer town a proper summer’s goodbye.
And for me that meant swimming. I did an investigative foray at the beach on Sunday. Plenty of families had also disregarded the calendar, setting up seaside, and a few people braving the waves, I knew I had to do it. I waded along the knee-deep water of the coastline, flip flops dangling from my fingers, my legs approaching that tingly state of numbness. This would warn off some less dedicated swimmers, but in my experience, if being in the water isn’t physically painful, you’re good to go.
On Thanksgiving proper, I took the plunge. Or rather, I waded out into the waves until I got up the courage for that first clean dive. The beauty of swimming in cold water is that every cell in your body feels instantly awake and alive. I imagine it like cellular fireworks, everything contracting then expanding, blood pumping double time.
I bobbed in the clear, cold water for a few minutes, surrounded by the almost seamless blue of lake and sky, undisturbed by boat or plane. The beach, even emptier than the day before, was dotted with the odd family or shore stroller, probably at a mere 1 or 2 percent of its summer peak capacity. Beyond the dunes, some of the trees along the beachside road were already changing colour, fiery hues washing over green. Some kids had written Happy Thanksgiving in the sand along the shore. Their message would be washed away perhaps before the day was over, but its rarity, its goodwill, like this unseasonably warm weather and exceedingly cold swim, was something to be thankful for.
Tell us: How did you celebrate the warmer than usual Thanksgiving in Ontario?