Last week, Shelagh Rogers’ wonderfully delightful CBC Radio book show, “The Next Chapter”, showed up in my podcast playlist after having been absent for the summer. I have been a Shelagh Rogers fan for decades, ever since she gave her droll, witty weather forecasts on CKWS television in Kingston while she was a student at Queen’s University in the 1970s. She is now a national icon whose radio voice is instantly recognizable to book lovers across the country.
For this first program of the 2016-2017 radio season, Ms. Rogers interviewed Madeleine Thien, the Canadian author whose new book, Do Not Say We Have Nothing, has been longlisted for both the Man Booker Prize and the Scotiabank Giller Prize. The literate, engaging alchemy of these two remarkable women makes for memorable listening. (The Next Chapter/Madeleine Thien Interview)
During the interview, Ms. Thien talked passionately about the profound impact that the Cultural Revolution and the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989 continue to have on Chinese society. When reflecting on the importance of memory in assessing this brutal chapter of Chinese history, Ms. Thien made a passing reference to “a domain of ghosts”, a phrase that has been resonating with me ever since. It especially rang true as a way of framing my experience of Sandbanks Provincial Park in Prince Edward County.
I have been regularly visiting Sandbanks’ magnificent beach and towering dunes for almost sixty years. It is a place of magic for me, a place to wander and reflect – to mark the passage of time, people, and chapters in my life. Most of the time, I have wandered the beach and the dunes alone, the main exception being my late partner, Spencer, who shared my love of the beach – but only when it was deserted and had been abandoned by the tourists. We spent time there just three weeks before he died in 2012, and I sought solace there soon after he died. So, yes, it is indeed “a domain of ghosts” for me.
Spencer, July, 2012
My retirement ritual is to now visit the beach on the Tuesday after Labour Day – a way of celebrating the many blessings of my retirement and to be reminded of how I have internalized the beauty of Sandbanks into my soul.
And so, as the new school year gets under way, I offer these images of Sandbanks Provincial Park – with my thanks for its constancy in my life. Enjoy.