For nearly 28 years now, I have lived on this earth. I have moved to new towns. I have made new friends. I have lost old ones. As you grow older, there are many things that you need to leave behind, and that makes those few rare gems that last so much more precious.
At this moment, outside of my family, there is only one thing I can think of that has always been there for me, my entire life. In Northern Ontario, where I live, there is an island in the Great Lake Huron called Manitoulin Island. We just call it "the Island" around here.
It is the largest freshwater island in the world and home to the only unceded native reserve in Canada. Its geology attracts hundreds of students each year, inspired thousands of photos, and is one of the reasons that tens of thousands of tourists visit our beautiful rock.
The only way to drive onto the Island is over a century-old swing-bridge, a designated Canadian Heritage site. Alternatively, you could take one of the ferries across. Either way, from the moment you set foot in this marvelous place you can feel time slow down. No one hurries on the Island. It's the only place in the world where I can just sit...and be happy to do nothing.
But even on the island itself, no one place has been a staple for me. When I was born, my parents owned Hideaway Lodge, a small cottage resort they bought second-hand. When I was a year old they sold it and built a rustic cottage deep in the woods. No electricity. No running water. It's not a hunt camp - my parents don't do that. We just went and enjoyed the peace and quiet.
When I was about six years old, my parents bought another cottage resort, Sunset Motel and Cottages, which they own to this day. Two years later, to the great chagrin of me and my siblings, we sold the cottage in the woods. Even Sunset has been transformed over the last twenty years - not one of the original cottages stand as they did then.
I don't go to the island as often as I did anymore. It used to be every weekend from spring through fall, even when we lived 4.5 hours away (in Timmins). Yes, that's 9 hours of driving every weekend. But while I don't go as often, I've made sure to be extra indulgent about the One True Part of my childhood that had remained.
Farquhar's Ice Cream.
In a small town on the island called Mindemoya ("little old lady"), an ancient building housed some antique ice cream equipment, operated by three people. From these old churns were born thirty flavours of pure bliss - unheard of in my youth of Vanilla, Chocolate, and sometimes Strawberry. Made from real cream, from local cows, there was simply nothing better in the world. Oh sure, Haagen Daaz is decadent...but when you want an Ice Cream Cone - two giant scoops, in a waffle cone - you went to their little store and got yourself a real Ice Cream Cone.
No one who has visited the Island on my watch has escaped without trying Farquhar's Ice Cream. And no one could claim that it was anything less than the best.
But as you get older, there are things that you must leave behind.
By all that is Right and Good in this world, I will one day open an old fashioned creamery and ice cream parlor on Manitoulin island and restore a little bit of light to this world.