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Arriving Where We Started - 9/20/01

By Little Gidding - Published September 20, 2001 - Viewed 996 times

Arriving Where We Started -  September 20, 2001 

Eileen having fun in the boatyard
Eileen returning to the dock in Port Credit, where it all started.

When we're asked where we're from, we usually answer, "Toronto". We lived in Toronto for a good chunk of time before we cast off the docklines, a lot of our friends are still there, and that's the name written on the transom of our boat. But neither of us grew up in Toronto and members of our immediate families are scattered across the country, from one coast to the other. Although we're still residents of Ontario and maintain a home base in Ottawa, our "real" home is our boat, Little Gidding, currently located in Trinidad.

We're about to head back to Little Gidding after having spent some time in Ottawa and Toronto. We usually know when it's time to leave Toronto because the various friends with whom we've been staying start mumbling something about changing the locks to their houses. This is puzzling, of course, because we can't imagine a more likeable couple than ourselves for them to have the good fortune to accommodate.

People often tell us, in tones betraying no small amount of envy, "You guys are so lucky to be leading the lives you do. It's so boring here." Boring? We can't believe it. Yes, we've been to a lot of interesting places since first leaving Toronto in 1994, but we're constantly amazed at how different the place seems whenever we return. While some of the novelty is undoubtedly due to new things happening in our absence - some good, some bad - a lot of it is due to the fact that we ourselves have changed.

A few weekends ago, we spent a sunny Saturday afternoon in Port Credit, a suburb of Toronto. The local chandlery had organized an in-water boat show and we got recruited to help out with the booth operated by Canadian Yachting, a magazine for which we write a regular column. For us, the location of the boat show was significant because it was staged in the same marina where, seven years ago, we had been living and working on Little Gidding. The weather was perfect, we bumped into several acquaintances we knew from past cruising adventures, and we met a whole lot of new people. We admired some major improvements to the public promenade alongside the waterfront. There was a new restaurant next door with a fine view of the lake. We had a great day.

While we were packing up, someone mentioned, "I guess everything seems pretty much the same as when you left." Not really, we thought, as we silently recalled the lines from a poem T.S. Eliot wrote almost sixty years ago:

"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"

He was inspired to write the poem while visiting the remains of a unique 17th century monastic community in England. The name of the place, and the poem, is Little Gidding.

Cheers, David & Eileen

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