The Village is quiet, but for the Cardinals welcoming the day with their song. Sunday Morn, and I have to work later in the afternoon, and you know how sometimes something whispers inside you, and you just feel compelled?
That just happened. Just now.
Sipping my java, and all of a sudden I am lost in Grey again. Not Tim Grey, but the County of Grey. I’m lost again in the rugged landscape, the abandoned roads, the old trails, past stands of conifers and hardwoods.
All around us, in any direction you cared to go, was this enchanted forest.
Criss-crossed by ancient trails, and the new. Abandon roads often draw you in, but only so far. And some are only accessible in the summer, into the fall, afterwards, it is on foot .
But across the road was the heart of that ancient wood – the Klondike.
The Bruce Trail winds through Grey, but you won’t find it on any of their trail maps; this is off-roading, I suppose one could say, for hikers or cyclists alike.
I was just reading that it covers 161 Hectares, or 398 Acres, which is a small portion of the over 8,000 acres the county manages (in conjunction with the Ministry). This website calls it the Glenelg Klondike Property – Grey County Forest 24. That page I found has this cool interactive map.
But when I saw the name of the road the little dot labelled I teared up. I did. So many memories.
The 8th concession
Like a tendril that reaches inside, and touches your soul. Like the soft sounds of a familiar song, or the scent of bread baking, I was transported back 7 years.
Do you know how many times I passed that sign? How many times we ventured forth, transversing the mucky new pond area that was forming across that old road? To go beyond..
One could get lost and find inside yourself a longing to never escape from this enchanted place.
We once spoke to a long time resident who lived on the 6th concession, which formed the southern boundary of the Klondike. He talked of bear claw marks he found on one of the trees in the woods behind his house and fields. When Tim asked him about the black Panther sightings that had become a bit of a West Grey legend, he clammed up and just smiled.
They persist those stories, on this ruralist of routes. There might be something to it as Lexi says they released 4 female cougars a few years ago in southern Ontario; apparently in an experiment in natural deer or rabbit population control. Who knows the validity of that, though.
So I went strolling through my collection of photos, as I was not sure what I still had left from that time. Wasn’t sure if I managed to overcome that enamoured sense of awe long enough to put the lens to the eye and snap a shot or two.
Until that feeling came over me you know, I might have never thought to go back and look again. Sometimes my heart still longs for those woods.
I completely forgot about this day. Completely. Scrolling back through the months of 2009 – October, July, May – and there it was.
A passageway to that enchanted realm – the 8th concession.
I could almost FEEL the cool air on my cheeks, the smell of the melting earth, the dethawing marshes, the birdsong in the trees, and the gentle breeze that late afternoon.
The day was April 26th, 2009.
And we had no idea what lay ahead.
It was before it all. Before everything went careening off into the abandoned hallways of the Old Vic. Before I unearthed all the truths that he had hid from me. Before.
Those cathedral woods, and enchanted clearings, with the tales of these forests of Grey whispering to me, again. I left of a piece of myself there.
I hope to go back.
I will return,
to those forests of Grey.