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A Farewell To Baskin's Beach

by Chris Sorrenti


Twenty-seven summers come and gone since I first walked these all too familiar trails. A son born, a wife divorced, a bad habit finally broken. And now, again I walk alone, as much the child who once dreamt of all these things I've come to take for granted.

It was a hot, humid day when I got the phone call; Mom excited, "Hey, come check this out!" And just as excited, I wrote down the directions. Just twenty minutes west of Ottawa down the old Dunrobin Road.

Ha! I'd be living in Tahiti if I had a twonie for every time I travelled that cowpath, and just as ready to jump over the moon, after drinking all day at one of those family barbecues. But that of course was before the days of "Don't Drink and Drive."

And now under a sulking September sky, I trudge down the canteen hill, a hundred memories winging by. I just couldn't bear the sight of mom putting up the "For Sale" sign, but deep in the pit of my stomach there's a familiar acknowledgement that another chapter of life has been played out, and along with it, the begrudging acceptance of not being able to stop the inexorable march of time.

Crossing the road, I purposely slow down, wanting to savor every sensation, all of them combining into one huge deja vu...

...my wife and son are beside me, both of us laughing at his wide eyed expression, seeing the Ottawa for the first time; the people, the sand, the sun and the tunes. Barely able to walk, he shudders at the sensation of the river over his feet...

...then I'm alone again, brought back by the empathetic cry of a gull. Barely a month before, bodies in all shapes and sizes crammed this finite space, bronzing themselves. Now even the insects have abandoned it. My only acquaintance is the garbage strewn about; testament to another season come and gone. Cursed with a good memory, too easily I recall those warm July nights I'd wander down to my own piece of the Ottawa. Braving the mosquitoes, I'd look across the mirror smooth water, the cottage lights of Quebec singing in the distance, then up past the Pleiades into the heart of the Milky Way, where I was sure to catch one or two falling stars. Each, supposedly heralds the passing of another soul to the heavens. Little did I realize, for me, it would mean so much more.

Now, with the full weight of sobriety upon me, I recall an old saying, and how whoever wrote it was dead wrong. Sometimes you do realise what you've lost, at least, before it's completely gone.

© 1991
Revised © 2012

840 hits as of November 2019

02/28/2012

Posted on 02/28/2012
Copyright © 2019 Chris Sorrenti

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by George Hoerner on 02/28/12 at 03:39 PM

Quite a write Chris. I really enjoyed this!

Posted by Rob Littler on 02/28/12 at 03:53 PM

Twenty-seven summers come And gone since I first walked These all too familiar trails. A son Born, a wife divorced, a bad habit Finally broken. And now, again I walk alone, As much the child who once dreamt Of all these things I've come to take For granted. It was a hot, humid day When I got the phone call; Mom excited, "Hey, come check this out!" And just as excited, I Wrote down the directions. Just twenty minutes west of Ottawa Down the old Dunrobin Road. Ha! I'd be living in Tahiti If I had a twonie for every time I travelled that cowpath, and just as ready To jump over the moon, after drinking All day at one of those family barbeques. But that of course was before The days of "Don't Drink and Drive." And now under a sulking September sky, I trudge down the canteen hill, a hundred memories winging by. I just couldn't bear the sight of mom Putting up the "For Sale" sign, But deep in the pit of my stomach There’s a familiar acknowledgement That another chapter of life Has been played out, and along with it, The begrudging acceptance Of not being able to stop The inexorable march Of time. Crossing the road, I Purposely slow down, wanting To savor every sensation, all of them Combining into one huge déjà vu... ...my wife and son are beside me, both Of us laughing at his wide eyed expression, Seeing the Ottawa for the first time; The people, the sand, the sun And the tunes. Barely able to walk, He shudders at the sensation of the river over His feet... ...then I'm alone again, brought back By the empathetic cry of a gull. Barely A month before, bodies in all shapes And sizes crammed this finite space, Bronzing themselves. Now even The insects have abandoned it. My only acquaintance is the garbage Strewn about; testament to another season Come and gone. Cursed With a good memory, Too easily I recall those warm July nights I'd wander down to my own Piece of the Ottawa. Braving the mosquitoes, I'd look across the mirror smooth water, The cottage lights of Quebec singing In the distance, then up past the Pleiades Into the heart of the Milky Way Where I was sure to catch one Or two falling stars. Each, supposedly Heralds the passing of another soul To the heavens. Little did I realize, For me, it would mean so much more. Now, with the full weight of sobriety Upon me, I recall an old saying, And how whoever wrote it was dead wrong. Sometimes you do realize what you've lost, At least, before it's completely gone.

Posted by Joan Serratelli on 02/29/12 at 02:29 PM

I have lived at the beach since 2000. A lot of changes. We now have...stores! This sleepy town has joined the 21st Century, and the "locals" hate it! Great piece.

Posted by Linda Fuller on 02/29/12 at 08:35 PM

Really nice nostalgia piece, Chris. Totally enjoyed it and your realization at the end, although I'll have to think about 'lost' vs 'completely lost' :)

Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 03/01/12 at 12:06 AM

Electrifying.

Posted by Morgan D Hafele on 03/04/12 at 11:55 PM

though not at or around baskin's beach, this certainly got me thinking about my own past walks through touristy summers and long cold winter nights. a great retrospective.

Posted by Kristina Woodhill on 03/06/12 at 01:29 AM

I thoroughly enjoyed this stroll of yours from past to present - it's meaningfulness to you comes through clearly. Thank you.

Posted by Kara Hayostek on 03/12/12 at 02:40 AM

You know, I wrote you the message before I read this poem but I think we are on the same page here (read my peom about poppy). It is so hard with kids and divorces, I'm literally at my wits end trying to keep them healthy. I have my son telling his teachers that he "doesnt have to listen to them, and to quit nagging him" or "he can just leave" and then I have my more reserved daughter, I don't know what she is thinking, she is just so reserved. This piqued my interest, and if you have any advice for me, pm me. I'm lost.

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