Reg of the birds, and the Queensway Motel Story

Not tough picking a theme for father’s day. While my Dad Reg Barlow put in sixteen years in the Air Force and 16 years at the Windsor Public Library, and was one of the rare few that can read a 300 page manual and then ‘build it’ ‘repair it’ ‘take it apart’ or teach it to someone else in ten minutes, his delight was birdwatching. It’s a fine hobby as it just unfolds into all sorts of other discovery and learning and knowing whats around, and lays down a history of memories and meanings that simply wouldn’t be there otherwise. And kindnesses like taking the family on an inexpensive roadtrip come always with the rewarding joys of refreshed birdwatching.

Generally speaking, choosing the path less travelled is often amazing different ways. I speak of Motor Inns of course. Places one could never refind, magical moments, just going to buy ice. Hotels have gone all hightower and suction brick thermal seal identical, and you don’t get much. Motor Inns cost as much 40 dollars less, and sometimes you get crack party neighbours that are rowdy and demented all night and knock on the door of your little cabin because they assume you’re part of their party, but other times you wake to discover a universe around that motor inn, thrilled, and wishing to stay all month!

The Queensway Motel on the outskirts of tiny Simcoe was of the positive experience category. Rates are no doubt seasonal, but it was $69 a night and I was really impressed by the kind spirittedness and good faith of the man running it now. He didn’t demand serial numbers of car license or credit card, and thats great, because how can we be trusting every clerk and staff of every Inn we ever visit? They’re hardly Security Clavens. I was touched the way the guy swept aside the idea that he wouldn’t trust us to be good visitors. And enjoyed his enthusiastic talk of the place. At the back of the property is a pond that was once part of the main river that now goes through the centre of Simcoe. Now it is a pond, with a stream nearby, but all the water is going down back there. (It’s like he knew we were nature types. He has a map of Simcoe from before the changes, on his wall. I photographed it but it’s a real thumbscrew to reproduce in this format.)

After we checked in there was a real threat of mosquitos, it was just when they like, and our room at the back of the property was nestled into unforeseeable depths of nature. Exciting! But dark. And it was prior to the friday the 13th of mosquitos, ie., the coming week of rain in Windsor region, hot hot Windsor, yowza, in Winnipeg the mosquitos are excitedly packing their bags; in the bayous happy mosquito families are all talking about Windsor. The New Mosquito City they’re saying. Happy mosquitos!

When I opened the door next morning to fetch us coffees and muffins and shampoo and conditioner with all my flayed hair and everything I opened the door and just that second a chipmunk was busying past right past the door. Invisible in all photos, and as the morning wore on the chipmunk resumed fencehopping and searching for things but always with an eye on me, which feels good, it’s a nice way of being alive, noticed and tracked by the chipmunk.

The muffins were incredible at the oblique but pro shop we went into. Vastly better than Tim Horton’s, superb, and everyone was pleasent, even tough looking people who in other towns might give me a look, especially with morning hair. I’d go back to that motel any time.

The blue jay that blasted by suddenly was the first bird excitement of the morning. It was so near to me when I noticed it that the whiparound camera shot actually caught it in flight well. Such good cameras the sony but so much basic physical lens trouble every time, jamming lens! You’d think they’d fix that with the new model each year but it gets worse the smaller the cameras get. The future holds many wonders. The basic physicality of things may not be one of the ones being looked at lately though, heavy lens thin camera = no, , but I’m sticking with sony’s because everything else on them works so well.

That photo says yes to me on the whole sony digital front, and no, I have no relations with Sony, it’s not a paid review, it’s appreciation, but for the relentless jamming lens issue, which would not be featured in an ad and is a pressing concern

The vista as seen from the pond downstream where once the whole river flowed (oh how the queensway motel must regret this turn of the river, a palatial inn in its day, phenomenal family retreat, and hearth of home to seasonal workers. Such a charming place.

As I millhoused about outside, suddenly a mother duck and six ducklets and then the mallard dad followed along honking to strangers like myself. on the one hand, as former birds of prey, it was defensive to a point, but, there was no way they weren’t heading into the flowers and through the almost deliberate tear in the fence they enter through, to swim in the unopened swimming pool. It’s interesting they prefer it to the pond.

I’d like being a duck. It would make sense to me.

I think I’ll save the write up of Port Dover and the purple martyn swallows photos for now.

Great thanks to Simcoe and the Queensway Motel though!

And special thanks to the man from the apartment building nearby who came down and explained to me how the turtles only come out in the pond if they have no idea you are there, and the orioles return each year (the same family he assumes) to this specific pond, pointing out the foliage they like and their favorite spots in the trees, and the monarchs come in early september or late august. There was nothing he didn’t know about anything. He and I puzzled each other with sentence structure around the dangerous impossibility of the monarch butterfly continental migration. Suddenly he had no guess what I was saying, and I had no idea what he thought I was saying. Furthering it only became more complex and strange. “It’s unbelievable they fly all that way everywhere they go, but it proves they exist,” had him bouncing back and forth across the comma trying to figure out what even my theme was. Simcoe is really different from Toronto or Windsor or Vancouver, and other places I’ved lived.


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