This was what I saw if I stood at the front of The Gathering Place, the bed & breakfast I stayed at on Pelee Island the weekend of August 10th. Owned and operated by the gracious and lovely Miss Liz (who inspired me to start wearing a sassy scarf again), The Gathering Place was the precisely the place my soul needed to regenerate.
I had a poetry reading booked for the Sunday evening, so I took the Saturday ferry to the island with high excitement to be alone, read, write, sleep, swim, eat…you know, jam as much ‘me time’ things to do into a 24-hour period as I could.
I rented a bike first. A lovely blue bike that would fast become my island chariot (and the pain-causer of my love parts).
This bike and I became very close, very fast. *Sweet Heyzoos* I dropped my bags off at the b&b, changed into my bathing suit and a flowy dress (official island wear, thank you very much), pressed play on my phone to listen to The Walkervilles Live at Mackenzie Hall, and set off on my bike in search of a beach.
I put sunscreen on as much of my body as I could reach which resulted in a half-back sunburn by Sunday evening. Oh, but the ride around the island was divine. Really, I hadn’t planned to ride the whole island, but it’s just what ended up happening. I found a secluded little beach at the time when I was about to explode from heat exhaustion. The sandy bottom and cool water were exactly what my heart and body needed. Swimming, if you don’t know this about me, is one of my all-time favourite things to do. I’ve been swimming in the water since I was teeny-tiny. Inside, I’m definitely part fish. I did some hand stands and got water up my nose. And I did what I love to do most – swim underwater and listen. Listen to my breath that always seems to get stuck in my ears. Listen to the movement of the sand in the water, and of course, listen to the water – the life of it. As long as my lungs can keep me under, that’s how long I stay.
After my mermaid time was over, I hopped back on my bike (and YOWZA – that’s when my girl let out a scream!) and rode as smoothly as I could to Connorlee’s for lunch. If you go to Pelee Island, you must stop for food at Connorlee’s. It’s healthy, smart and delicious. The food gave me the much-needed energy I would need to bike the rest of the island. Also, the sugar from the giant, icing-smeared cinnamon bun that I devoured like it was my last meal was spreading through me like wildfire so I my legs were pedalling overtime.
It was back to me and The Walkervilles with a bit of Crissi Cochrane sprinkled in as I traveled through gentle curves and tree-lined streets, dodging dragonfly flurries and butterfly bunches. It took me all day. And it was a lovely day.
Turns out the thing I needed the most was an island and a bike and…well, some talented guys & gals from Walkerville to serenade me.
(I’m not naked in this photo.) Come nightfall, this poet was the best kind of exhausted. Sweaty from being physical, full from eating great food, hoarse-throated from singing to the trees, and invigorated from feeling the island seep into her bones.
I didn’t sleep well, after all that! I was too hot. And at some point in the night, the island lost power. I think maybe it all got sucked up through the seat of my bike…hmmm. Is that possible?
I wrote six poems that evening and into the next morning. They’d been born along the streets of the island on Saturday as I rode…and out they finished pouring come Sunday morning. God it felt amazing to write when the words were ready. That doesn’t happen on the mainland – at least not often. (Not complaining here, just sayin’.)
The power returned by 10:15am and by 10:45am I was enjoying one of the most delicious breakfasts – that omelette Miss Liz? I mean, did you scrape some heaven into it? I think so!
My Sunday morning was spent here. Writing. Reading. Eating. Resting. Ahhhh. (She throws her head back in delight.)
I also prepped the poetry I would read at the quarry later that evening. Yes, the poetry reading was held in an old quarry that some fantastic folks decided to clean out and make useful for creative arts. The acoustics were pretty amazing.
I arrived to a solid crowd of about 35 islanders/visitors. I’m always grateful when people come to readings. I’ve been to many where no one showed. This was a great crowd – they had good energy, they laughed at my opening lines, and they listened well. Throughout the reading I saw mouths smile and heads nod, and I heard a lot of belly laughter. *THE BEST*
(See my flowy dress?)
It was an intimate experience. I read some new pieces (although none that I’d written on the island) and they were well-received. After, we all listened to and watched some actors and musicians perform a rendition of The Wasteland. Books were sold and signed and donated. A fantastic gig it was. (Thank you Windsor Feminist Theatre!)
The ferry ride home was smooth (and Gravol-licious). I read, wrote in my journal and stared a people. Gave thanks for the incredible 24 hours I had to myself.
You know, it takes life to write. There is poetry in everything I do because that’s how I feel life. But I don’t always stop to write things down. I don’t always stop – for anything. (Kisses and lovin’ don’t count – these things go without saying!) I needed this getaway. I needed to be alone. And that’s okay. Writing is solitary and I really love that part of it. Every once in a while I need to be an island. I need to be alone fully – just me and the trees and the music and the words.
Then – there is time to let it all hang out, fall out, pour out, tear out, sleep out…
But Time nor space do not untether my heart. It doesn’t take long before I miss my love, I miss the kids, I miss my friends…and talking to people instead of singing to trees. But I need to feel that alone for awhile. I need to saturate in it.
The poetry comes and unravels me. All the right parts that need letting go.
9 thoughts on “Pelee Island – Writing, Reading & Living Poetry”
So glad you had that amazing overnight swimming/biking/eating/sleeping/writing/reading adventure! And that you shared it – I feel like I was there and now have some writing to do!
Thanks for reading Karen! Glad you’re inspired to write! Get to it, girl!!
Reading, “I miss my friends,” inspires me to write:
Advisor on Where to Poop During a Pelee Island Power Outage?
Anonymous in the Crowd of Smiling Mouths and Nodding Heads.
And I get it.
all about the poetry.
Damn girl!! Thank you for this! You’re such a talented writer! Super hugs!!
I was at the quarry for your reading and loved it. Thank you for making the journey and then sharing the experience. I write, too, and read this summer and last at the quarry. My training is more traditional (taught high school and college composition and journalism 38 years)) but feel the same island muse you felt. We have a cottage on Pelee, and I find myself writing poetry while hanging laundry or walking to the winery. Pelee is truly special! I hope you return. And kudos to your sassy and bold voice!
Thank you Betsy! So glad we share the ‘muse’! And thank you for supporting poetry!
So much life has been poured into you. Can’t wait to see what you’ll do with it!
Thanks for sharing your experience. What a wonderful place! There must be something about it and poetry. My first entry in the Polar Expressions contest was about Pelee Island.